"Soviet order returning when civilian aircraft can be shot down ... Especially in the area of Moscow or Sochi." Experts on why the Russian military seeking the right to attack passenger airliners

14 January 2019, 12:17
Фото: eurasian-defence.ru
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Степан Давыдов

QHA media

“If the intruder aircraft refuses to comply with radio commands (visual signals) for landing (exiting the airspace of the Russian Federation) or refusing to obey them without giving reasons and if there is a real threat of death or environmental disaster, weapons and combat equipment of duty forces are used against it to defeat,” the draft says.

The Russian military may be allowed to shoot down civilian aircrafts. They will receive such a right if a resolution is adopted, which draft is published on the website of the Russian government. The draft resolution says that if a passenger plane entered the airspace of Russia and does not respond to warning signals and warning fire, the military have the right to destroy it.

The draft resolution also specifies that in the absence of a real danger of death and (or) the onset of an environmental catastrophe, weapons and military equipment of duty forces are not used to kill. Who and how will determine the “fact of danger” is not clear.

Aleksey Melnik, the co-director of foreign policy and international security programs at the Ukrainian Centre for Economic and Political Studies named after Oleksandr Razumkov, believes that there is nothing criminal in the initiative itself. According to him, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the military regard civilian aircrafts as a potential weapon in the hands of terrorists. But the expert emphasizes that nothing is bad about this resolution, if it was not Russia”.

In itself, this decision does not carry such a threat – the only threat is today’s aggressive behavior of Russia and its readiness to use force, a disproportionate force, – Melnik believes.

In 1983, near the Sakhalin Island, the Soviet SU-15 fighter shot down the South Korean Boeing 747, which had veered 500 kilometers off course. 246 passengers and 23 crew members died.

Russian military expert Pavel Fengelgauer called the government’s decree formal and defining only the “external framework” of how the military will act.

“Since the interception of airplanes of various NATO countries is constantly taking place over the Baltic, over the Black Sea, Finland also complains that Russian planes often fly into the Finnish space, obviously, a decision was necessary to have some formal explanation about what to do next, if it comes to a skirmish,” Fengelgauer says. “The country is large, stretched. Top management might be sleeping at the moment when an incident happens somewhere. Now the military will have the opportunity not to wake the authorities and there will be a document to protect them, giving the right to do so. “

In his opinion, skirmishes are possible because of the “pre-war time”, the tension between Russia and the West is growing and has reached the level of the Cold War with local “proxy wars”.

Of course, there is nothing good in this, as the military is given carte blanche to act. The Soviet order is returning when civilian aircraft can be shot down … Now especially near Moscow or Sochi. If there is a threat to senior management.

Fengelgauer clarified that if the resolution is adopted, the non-public departmental order of the Minister of Defense containing more detailed instructions for the military, could be a further step.

Since the beginning of hostilities in the east of Ukraine, NATO fighter aircrafts have repeatedly intercepted Russian military aircrafts.

One of the recent incidents occurred over the Baltic Sea. In November 2018, two German Eurofighter jets on duty as part of the NATO mission flew three times from Emari airbase in Estonia to intercept four Russian military aircrafts.