Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a decree which once again authorizes the Aerospace Forces to shoot down civilian aircraft that violate the country’s airspace.
The ban on using lethal force against passenger planes was introduced after the international scandal of 1983, when the Soviet Union Air Force shot down a South Korean Boeing 747 with 269 people on board.
In post-Soviet Russia, this ban has been enshrined in a government decree from 1994 titled “On the manner of using weapons… in airspace”.
The new document, drafted by the Defense Ministry, approved by the prime minister and uploaded to the official legal information portal, lifts that ban.
If an unarmed civilian aircraft violates the Russian state border and does not respond to radio commands, two military aircraft will be scrambled, which must use visual signals to force the aircraft to land or to leave Russian airspace.
“If the offending aircraft refuse to comply with the given radio commands and the visual signals to land, or refuse to obey, without explaining, the weapons and military equipment of the on-duty forces will be used… provided there is evidence that there are no passengers on board the offending aircraft,” the document states.
Lethal force can also be used against Russian airliners which have been stolen and do not respond to the commands to land, the decree states. First, however, it must be confirmed that there are no hostages on board.
If aircraft and helicopters are not available, anti-aircraft missiles can be used after a warning is issued over radio.