Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 206

The program to integrate Russia’s Military Space Forces and the missile defense units of the Air Defense Troops into the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) has been completed, the SRF press center announced yesterday. The space troops had been an independent branch of the armed forces. The missile defense units control the string of 100 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) launchers that surround Moscow as well as the long-range radar sites that serve to detect incoming ballistic missiles. Six of these sites are in neighboring countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and two in Ukraine.

The integration was touted as one that would improve the efficiency of command and control and save money by eliminating duplication. In July, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev estimated that the merger would save more than 1 trillion rubles. Nevertheless, the move has had its critics, both within Russia and abroad. Former commanders of the space and missile defense troops have warned that those two groups of forces will suffer as a result of the merger. In the U.S., there has been concern in the Congress that American assistance to the Russian space effort — which is largely run by the military space troops — could now be siphoned off to missile-related programs. Yet this first reorganizational step has gone rather smoothly. That might not be the case next year, however, when the remainder of the Air Defense forces are due to be combined with the Air Force.

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