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Southern Frontier Is Well-Protected

05.03.2007 11:30

Two years ago a new epoch started in the relations between Russia and Tajikistan. The starting point was the visit of the Russian President to the Republic and signing of critical interstate agreements. The most important of them relate to various aspects of economic and military-technical cooperation between our countries. These agreements in fact, not in word opened a new phase of the Russian-Tajik relations.

Deployment of the Russian Military Base in the territory of Tajikistan confirms interest of this Republic in further development of the military strategic cooperation with Russia, which a guarantor of the security and stability in the entire Central Asian region.

Many people in Tajikistan remember that during the civil war of the 90s, the bread was delivered to Dushanbe under convoy of armored personnel carriers of the Russian 210 Infantry Division. In this most critical time for Tajikistan the Russian 210 Infantry Division assumed responsibility for restoration of peace in this long-suffering land. That time our soldiers and officers fulfilled their mission with honor.

Today, the 201 Division has a new status of the Russian Military Base and respectively other political weight. Currently, the Division completely staffed as it is required for the military base. It consists of 33 military units stationed in three permanent posts: Kulyab, Kurgan and Dushanbe. During personnel training the prime attention is paid to the war on terror and fight against drug trafficking. Nowadays it is one of the most mission-capable military formations of the Russian Army, and the main guarantor of quiet life in the region.

According to Colonel Zavizion Alexey Vladimirovich, Commander of the Military Base, by the results of the inspection conducted by the inspection team and personally Commander-in-Chief of the Volga-Urals Military District in this 2006 training year the base including its aviation component successfully fulfilled the combat training program. When asked what changed after the Division became the military base, the Commander answered: “You know, the core of the 210 Division and combat tasks remained the same. But today we have a political mission – here we represent a foreign yet friendly state. Me, as a commander of the base, bear this responsibility in particular. We have permanent contacts with diplomats, attend receptions and directly communicate with the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Tajikistan. Besides, we have to deal with the logistics and administrative problems – the base includes not only combat units but also a hospital, military transportation office, field branch of the State Bank, Office of Prosecutor, Court and other organizations. All these bodies function within the military base, all of them need proper control and cooperation yet such entities as the Federal Security Service Unit and Office of Prosecutor and Court are practically independent but they remain inside the base architecture and operationally report to the Base Commander, take part in ceremonial reviews and practice firing".

The overseas service is always associated with challenges, but nevertheless has its priorities. The Base Commander says: “Yes, I believe it has. We, Russians, tend to get together in such stable collectives when we are aboard. This collectiveness is our good trait. When a young man is stationed here, usual words “the Motherland”, “State”, “statehood” have new overtones to him. Here he feels responsibility for the state defense. I am not speaking about Tajikistan, the election was held here recently, the coast is clear. But what about our neighbor? Afghanistan is a rather unstable state. We permanently tell the soldiers about it. They know it, feel it, and understand their responsibility”.

Community service remains an urgent problem for the Base Commander. According to him, the Military District Commander and Russian Ministry of Defense make efforts to develop social assets of the military base. In 2007, the Russian Government appropriated money for construction of a modern hospital for the Russian militaries.

The hospital will be built in Dushanbe and provided with the most sophisticated equipment. It will be one of the best health-care institutions in Central Asia. Construction of kindergartens and schools for the children of the Russian militaries also is in progress. These schools will be opened not only for them but also for Tajik children. Three residential buildings for the families of the militaries are under construction in the permanent posts. The off-duty life of soldiers and officers remains a priority task for the Base Commander, therefore the development started with the construction of the aforesaid social assets followed by the construction of facilities for the troops.

The 210 Military Base settles here seriously and for the long haul. The Russian-Tajik arrangements in the military sphere are based on the mutual interest in the Russian military presence in Tajikistan. For Tajikistan it is preconditioned by the fact that foreign threats may arise from different directions. And as the Republic has limited military and economic capabilities for their neutralization, the Russian military presence becomes a vital factor of foreign aggression deterrence.

The attitude of the locals to the Russian troops stationed in their land and to the base in general is friendly. Frankly speaking, the Russian base is materially beneficial to the local people. Somebody is on tour of duty here, others are employed in the supporting structures. Respectively their attitude to the militaries is good. Traditionally, attraction of the local people to Russia as a successor of the USSR is high. In spite of the 15-year old split this attraction is obvious today.

The people here respect the Russian military presence, tendency to develop economic ties, have good memories about the industrial potential build at the time of the USSR in this state mainly by Russia. All this creates a fundamental base for development of our military and political presence.

Regardless of the fact that last July the control over the border with Afghanistan was completely handed over to the Tajik border guards, in an emergency the Russian troops are the last resort. The Tajik army is under formation now. After the collapse of the USSR Tajikistan had to create its armed forces from the ground up in the severe conditions of the civil war and unstable Afghan border that was just left by the Russian border guards.

Tajikistan is not going to transfer to the Western military standards as many former Soviet republics did. It seems that the Republic understands well enough that Russia is concerned over the safe Afghan border much more than NATO. Thus the 210 Military Base provides for stability and security of the southern sector.