President Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, comrade officers and generals,
Today is a special day for you, an important day, and I am pleased to welcome here to the Kremlin’s St George Hall, the hall of Russian military glory, the best members of the special forces units.
We know that these units carry out the most difficult missions concerned with protecting the security of our country and our citizens. People do not end up in the special forces by chance or through connections: life itself and the harsh selection it imposes mean that only the best of the best can join these ranks.
The military history of legendary units such as Alfa, Vimpel and Vityaz have filled many heroic and sometimes dramatic pages. Today I offer particular words of gratitude to the special forces veterans, to all those who, at the risk of their own lives, performed their international duty in Afghanistan, saved people in conflict zones, lost their lives while protecting women and children. The self-sacrifice of your comrades is a lasting example for today’s generation of special forces fighters.
Today, the special forces are at the crest of the fight against those attempt to undermine the foundations of our constitutional order and the very stability of our state. The aims of terrorists are not local, not insignificant and not even regional in scale. They are, rather, cannon fodder being used to attempt to achieve global aims, one of which, the most dangerous for us, is to destroy our state from within.
This means that the essence and foundation of your work today is not simply to neutralise individual gunmen and armed groups. Today you are truly at the forefront of the fight for Russian statehood and for guaranteed security for all our country’s people.
The special forces’ decisive action has significantly advanced the counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus. It is in large part thanks to you that the heads of major armed groups have been neutralised and that many channels via which bandits were receiving arms and money have been cut off.
I am confident that you will continue to carry out your missions effectively and with precision and good coordination, all the more so as the formation of the National Counter-terrorist Committee considerably increases the possibilities for coordinating the work of the special forces units belonging to the different security and law enforcement agencies.
A key task for the special forces personnel is to constantly raise their professional skills. You find yourselves operating in conditions that cannot be predicted in advance. The success of operations and of the lives of dozens and sometimes even hundreds of people depends directly on your level of combat preparedness and on competently chosen tactics.
For its part, the state is continuing its work to ensure decent service conditions for the special forces personnel and for increasing social guarantees. Every defender of the Fatherland should know that his country needs him.
Dear friends, on this important day I would like to thank you and your colleagues for your honest, irreproachable service and for your personal courage and high level of professionalism. I firmly believe that you will continue to build on the best traditions of your units.
I wish you success in your service, good health and prosperity for you and your families.
Allow me now, here in this ceremonial setting, to present state decorations to our comrades.