Russia Air Force chief laments 'critical' state of aerospace defense
17:11 | 19/ 01/ 2008
MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Air Force commander warned on Saturday that if Russia does not radically improve its aerospace defense, the entire country will be left vulnerable to attack by 2020.
Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin told a conference at the Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow that over the next 12 years foreign powers will "obtain fundamentally new means and systems" and integrate intelligence, communications and navigation, leaving almost all of Russia's territory vulnerable.
"Under these conditions a potential enemy will gain the ability to carry out high-precision strikes, coordinated in terms of time and space, on practically any target on Russian territory," he said.
The commander said the country's aerospace defense is suffering from a severe shortage of funding and resources, and that the existing resources should be integrated into the Air Force as soon as possible, to ensure that Russia is capable of repelling any attack.
"We consider the current state of elements of aerospace defense to be critical," he said.
Earlier at the conference, Chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, warned that the country is prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend itself and allies in the event of a severe external threat.
His comments came amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO over the alliance's expansion into the former Eastern Bloc, the United States' plans to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Moscow's increasingly assertive military stance.
Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, and on December 12, 2007 imposed a unilateral moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a key arms reduction pact.