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Anatoly Kornukov
Anatoly Kornukov with Vladimir Putin
Born 1942
Occupation Commander
Years active ?-2002

Army General Anatoly Mikhaïlovich Kornukov (Russian: Анатолий Михайлович Корнуков) (born 10 January 1942, Kadievka (now Stakhanov, Ukraine).


A pilot under his command, Victor Belenko, defected to Japan in an advanced MIG-25 fighter.

On September 1, 1983, Kornukov, was commander of Dolinsk-Sokol Air Base when Korean Air Lines Flight 007 went astray and entered Soviet air space, first over Kamchatka.

As a subordinate to commander of the Far Eastern Military District Air Defense Forces, General Valeri Kamensky, and as commander of Sokol Air Base on Sakhalin Island, Korunkov received the command from Kamensky to shoot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 carrying 260 people, including U.S. congressman Larry McDonald, while it was over the international waters of Okhotsk, having exited Kamchatkan air space.[1]

"...simply destroy [it] even if it is over neutral waters? Are the orders to destroy it over neutral waters? Oh, well."[2]

Though Kamensky had ordered KAL 007 to be shot down while over international waters, he insisted that it first be verified as not civilian. Kornukov insisted that there was no need. Kamensky: We must find out, maybe it is some civilian craft or God knows who. Kornukov: What civilian? [It] has flown over Kamchatka! It [came] from the ocean without identification. I am giving the order to attack if it crosses the State border.[3]

Kornukov gave the order for the shootdown as KAL 007 was about to pass out of the Soviet airspace over Sakhalin Island into International air space, "O (obscenities) How long [does it take him] to go to attack position, he is already getting out into neutral waters. Engage after burner immediately. Bring in the MiG 23 as well. while you are wasting time, it will fly right out." [4]

Kornukov, who had retained his position even when, in 1976, a pilot under his command, Victor Belenko, had defected to Japan with his MiG-25—the most advanced Soviet fighter of the time—also survived the KAL 007 incident, eventually attaining the highest appointment possible in his field of service. On January 22, 1998, Boris Yeltsin appointed Kornukov as Commander of the Russian Air Force. This appointment by Yeltsin came on the heels of Yeltsin's dismissal of General Pyotr Deinekin, who had headed the air force since 1992. Deinekin was pressed to resign after a Russian Air Force Antonov An-124 cargo plane crashed soon after takeoff at Irkutsk Airport and landed on a nearby apartment complex, killing over 60 people.

In January 2002, Kornukov resigned as Commander of the Russian Air Force and he now advises the Russian Federation in matters of missile defense and defense against aerial hijacker terrorist attacks against Russian cities. Against the terrorist threat from the air, he believes Russia is unprepared considering the Russian air defense commanders often absentee, "passing the buck", and lacking coordination. The following is a current example of his firm stance as reported in Pravda of March 31, 2004: "Former commander of Russian Air Force, General Anatoly Kornukov calls Russian authorities to be tough in dealing with NATO aircraft which would appear near Russian borders after Baltic countries" joining the alliance, the Russia Journal said. NATO gained seven new allies [on] new Russian borders. "Because of NATO expanding we should apply tough policy, including tough measures to NATO aircrafts (sic). If an aircraft violated the state border, it must be shot down. International law allows this", said General Kornukov. "To begin with, the Baltic states should be reminded that good-neighbor relations have nothing to do with military aircrafts (sic) barraging along the neighboring country borders. They are flying not just for pleasure, they are likely to be well-armed"."Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 

Asked how he felt about the victims onboard KAL 007, Kornukov said the downing left him with some unpleasant feelings[5] but suggested that casualties were simply the price that had to be paid. On Hero of the Day, a Russian television interview show. Kornukov commented,"I will always be convinced that I gave the right order. Sometimes, in strategic operations, we had to sacrifice battalions to save the army. In the given situation, I am quite sure that this was a pre-planned action that pursued quite obvious goals."[6]

Honours and awards

See also

  • Korean Air Lines Flight 007 transcripts


  1. KAL 007 :cover-up, David Pearson, Summit books, New York,1987, pp. 63,64
  2. ICAO '93, Information Papers no.1,
  3. ICAO '93, Information Paper no. 1,
  4. Report of the Completion of the Fact Finding Investigation regarding the shootdown of the Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 (KE007) on 31 August 1983, Information Paper 1, ICAO '93
  5. Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1998
  6. Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1998
Military offices
Preceded by
Pyotr Deinekin
Commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force
1998 – 2002
Succeeded by
Vladimir Sergeyevich Mikhaylov

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