Russia is lagging 25-30 years behind the U.S. in terms of air and space defense and can't resist a potential threat, say former high-ranking military officials.
The criticism comes from a former chief of Russia’s air force, Anatoly Kornukov, who sees the root of the problem in the meltdown of the defense industries in Russia, which have lost qualified personnel and key technologies, leaving the industrial plants in a “pitiful condition.”
In Soviet times, Kornukov said, it was widely known that Russian air defense systems were capable of shooting down 98% of intruding enemy planes. Now the figure has shrunk to 20%. Therefore, if North Korea or Iran launch an attack on Russia with short-range missiles, Russia will not be capable of shooting them down.
Kornukov is not the only person criticizing Russia’s armed forces. Another former big figure in the country’s military, Anatoly Sitnov, who used to be in charge of military equipment for the Defense Ministry, said that Russia’s army has lost 300 key technologies in air and space defense – for example, aircraft plants as well as factories for missile defense systems.
The country’s government representatives, however, said that the military forces have been growing stronger due to recent reforms and that they are currently developing S400 air defense missile systems which were on display during the Victory Day parade.
They added that they are developing a new S500 system which will have a greater range of 600 kilometers, and will be capable of dealing with 10 objects simultaneously.
Kornukov countered this by saying that the armed forces have only two S400 systems, while they are supposed to have at least 15. Therefore, they are behind schedule. Also, Kornukov said that S400 systems that were on display are outdated as they were made during the Soviet times and their lifetime is not indefinite. The reforms, Kornukov added, have crippled Russia’s air and space defense because they ruined the coordination between different parts and units.
Political analyst Viktor Mizin from the Moscow University of International Relations told RT that there is no reason to be concerned with the state of Russia’s military forces.
“I don’t see any reasons for this kind of panic,” he said. “We are not in a state of Cold War. Of course, the concept of protecting the country differs from that of the Soviet Union. Now we are protecting the major industrial centers, and S400 are doing their jobs well.”