Army General is the second highest military rank in the Russian Federation, inferior only to a Marshal and superior to a Colonel General...
(born in Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...
, 1942) is a Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...
n general, and former fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Defence Forces.
A pilot under his command, Victor Belenko, defected to Japan in an advanced MIG-25 fighter.
On Sept. 1, 1983, Kornukov, was commander of Dolinsk-Sokol
Dolinsk-Sokol is a military air base in Sakhalin Oblast, Russia located 8 km south of Dolinsk. It is a small base with no hardened areas. It existed before June 1966 according to declassified KH-7 satellite images...
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
The Far Eastern Military District was a military district of the Russian Ground Forces. In 2010 it was merged with the Pacific Fleet and part of the Siberian Military District to form the new 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
Lawrence Patton McDonald, M.D. was an American politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the seventh congressional district of Georgia as a Democrat...
while it was over the international waters of Okhotsk, having exited Kamchatkan air space.
"...simply destroy [it] even if it is over neutral waters? Are the orders to destroy it over neutral waters? Oh, well."
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.
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."
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 Jan. 22 1998, Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...
appointed Kornukov as Commander of the Russian Air Force
The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...
. 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 huge Russian AN-124 cargo plane crashed soon after takeoff at Irkutsk and landed on a nearby apartment complex, killing scores.
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".
Asked how he felt about the victims KAL 007, Kornukov said the downing left him with some unpleasant feelings
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."