In order to fight Islamic radicalism. From AFP, with thanks to Anthony:
DUSHANBE (AFP) — President Vladimir Putin opened Russia’s first military base in Tajikistan on Sunday in a bid to boost Moscow’s defense in former Soviet territories that have become overrun by Islamic insurgency and a growing drug trade.
Made up of 5,000 troops, it will represent the largest military base outside Russia’s border, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the flag-raising ceremony, underscoring Moscow’s safety concerns about the region. At the ceremony, held just north of the Afghan border, Putin pledged that “the base will boost peace and stability in Central Asia and throughout the former Soviet republics.”
Its most important goal is to “neutralize terrorist and extremist attacks, and also help in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime,” he said.