Anatoly Kornukov

General Anatoly Mikhailovich Kornukov (Russian: Анатолий Михайлович Корнуков; 10 January 1942 – 1 July 2014) was a general in the Russian Air Force and the former fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Defence Forces.

Anatoly Kornukov
Anatoly Kornukov-2 (cropped).jpg
Anatoly Kornukov in 2000
Native name
Анатолий Михайлович Корнуков
Birth nameAnatoly Mikhailovich Kornukov
Born(1942-01-10)January 10, 1942
Kadievka, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Stakhanov in Ukraine)
Died1 July 2014(2014-07-01) (aged 72)
Krasnogorsk, Russia
Allegiance Russia
Service/Branch Russian Air Force
Years of service1962–2002
RankRussia-Airforce-OF-9-2013.svg General
UnitSoviet Air Defence Forces
Commands heldCommander Russian Air Force
Far Eastern Military District
Air Defense Forces
Battles/warsSoviet war in Afghanistan
Shootdown of KAL Flight 007
Chechen conflict
AwardsSee below

From 1998 till 2002, he served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force

Military careerEdit

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, Kornukov received the command from Kamensky to shoot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 carrying 269 people, including U.S. congressman Larry McDonald, while it was over the international waters of Okhotsk, having exited Kamchatkan air space.[1]

Kamensky: "...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, "Oh (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 Deynekin, 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 advised 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 believed Russia is unprepared considering the Russian air defense commanders often absentee, "passing the buck", and lacking coordination. The following is an 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 aircraft. 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 aircraft barraging along the neighboring country borders. They are flying not just for pleasure, they are likely to be well-armed".[This quote needs a citation]

Asked how he felt about the victims on board 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."[5]

He died at the age of 72 on 1 July 2014.[6][7]

Honours and awardsEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ a b Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1998
  6. ^ Скончался бывший главнокомандующий ВВС РФ Анатолий Корнуков (in Russian). RIA Novosti. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  7. ^ Fox, Margalit (1 July 2014). "Anatoly Kornukov, Who Led Russian Air Force, Dies at 72". Retrieved 14 June 2017 – via
Military offices
Preceded by
Pyotr Deinekin
Commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force
1998 – 2002
Succeeded by
Vladimir Sergeyevich Mikhaylov