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Russia to redeploy aircraft at modernized Tajik air base

RIA Novosti

03/11/2006 11:56 DUSHANBE, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's 201st motorized infantry division in Tajikistan will redeploy its helicopters and planes to the Aini airbase near the country's capital, Russia's air force commander said Friday.

The Aini base, 15 kilometers east of Dushanbe and 250 kilometers from the country's border with Afghanistan, is being reconstructed with the help of India. The Russian planes are currently deployed at Dushanbe Airport.

"Our presence in the region will ensure the protection and support of the defense capabilities of Central Asian countries," Vladimir Mikhailov said during the transfer of two Mi-8 Hip and two Mi-24 Hind helicopters to Tajikistan.

The 201st motorized infantry division consists of three motorized infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, an air defense regiment, and also separate armored, motorized, medical, engineering and signal battalions alongside other division logistics and support units.

The division operates an air group, comprising five Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft as well as Mi-8 Hip and Mi-24 Hind helicopters. The base has 7,500 servicemen. In addition to Dushanbe, Russian military installations are located in Kuliab and Kurgantube in the south of the country and the eastern city of Nurek, where the Okno space-monitoring complex is based.

Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairullayev said Russia will provide Tajikistan with $26 million in military assistance in 2006 and with up to $30 million in 2007.

He also said 500 Tajik cadets studied at Russian military schools and all air force pilots received their training in Russia.

Russia and Tajikistan are both members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet security grouping that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. They are also in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security body in Central Asia that includes China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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