Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 13

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday named a former fighter pilot, Col. Gen. Anatoly Kornukov, as commander of Russia’s Air Forces and Air Defense Forces. The two services are being merged this year. Kornukov had been the commander of the Air Defense troops in the Moscow Military District. He replaces Gen. Petr Deinekin, whose career ended under a cloud following the crash last month in Irkutsk of a giant military An-124 transport. Kornukov’s appointment could help ease some of the tensions being caused by the merger of the two aviation services. Many Air Defense personnel have been suspicious of the merger, fearing that they might be relegated to second-class citizens in the new, combined force. Having one of their own at the top could calm these fears. Kornukov got off to a forceful start by announcing that some senior officers in both services would have to resign.

Yeltsin also presided over a meeting of the Defense Council yesterday. Opening the session, he said that the government had succeeded in overcoming resistance to military reform, both within the armed forces and in the parliament. Looking back at 1997, he said that the armed forces had been trimmed by 200,000 personnel. He also lauded an inventory of the armed forces completed last year, saying that "for the first time in 80 years we known what the Defense Ministry actually has."

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