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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, sergeants, soldiers, veterans,
I congratulate you on a remarkable event: the decoration of the 393rd Air Force base of the Southern Military District with the Order of Kutuzov. You have earned this decoration. You have earned it with your feats of arms, your impeccable fulfilment of the most challenging tasks, and the entire history of your famous unit.
Your unit has been on combat duty serving our Fatherland for the past 60 years. Its victories are truly legendary and heroic. Your predecessors, the pilots of the 807th Assault [Aviation] Regiment, received their baptism of fire at Stalingrad and later routed the enemy on the Taman Peninsula, in the Crimea and the Baltic states, and participated in liberating the city of Russian naval glory, Sevastopol. It was there that the regiment earned its proud name of Sevastopol.
Strike pilots have always fought on the frontline, in the thick of the fight, under enemy fire, where the battle is the hardest, where you need to quickly come to the rescue. That is the task of the army air force, of helicopter pilots. That was true in Afghanistan, where your fellow soldiers fulfilled the most difficult tasks, and during the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus and critical peacekeeping missions.
In the unit’s history, over a thousand military personnel were awarded orders and medals, and 28 of them received the highest awards of our Motherland: the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.
Units such as yours are the backbone and pride of the Russian Army, because we could not imagine our Armed Forces without the continuity of military traditions, without the high morale of the military spirit.
Today I want to reiterate: we will continue our consistent efforts to strengthen the country's defence capabilities, and our most important priority is the development of the Air Force, whose 100th anniversary we are celebrating this year.
The intensity of combat training must increase substantially. You must master modern technology to be supplied to air units, including the Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters, which have already come into service at your base.
Our goal is to bring the Armed Forces, the Russian combat air force to a new level, and this nationwide objective will be achieved.
Comrades, you carry out your military service in one of the most challenging and important areas and I am certain that you will always do your duty with honour, fully aware that the sovereignty and security of Russian citizens are in your hands.
Once again I congratulate the air base personnel on receiving the glorious award. I wish you success in your service, health and wellbeing to you and your families.