According to The Diplomat, “Russia created a new military branch, the Aerospace Forces, by merging the Russian Air Force with the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, TASS reports. The $60 billion reorganization appears to be a direct response to the perceived increased risk of NATO air and missile attacks on Russian soil — in particular, the United States military’s Global Strike program has the Kremlin worried.”
The change, which occurred on August 1st, is being officially called the Aerospace Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. “The Aerospace Forces will be subdivided into the air force, air and missile defense troops, and space forces,” claims The Diplomat. And, according to Russia’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, “Now the single command unites aviation, air defense and anti-missile defense troops, space forces and means of the armed forces’”
The new service branch will be responsible for launching and operating intelligence/nuclear missile warning satellites, as well as coordinating air and missile defenses, next to having control over one of the largest air forces in the world along with its conventional weapons arsenal. Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces will remain a separate service branch and will continue to control all of Russia’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, will remain a separate entity directly under the orders of the General Staff.
Back in May, former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhael Gorbachev, said that if the United States developed space-based weapons, the price could be not only an end to the Geneva talks, but “the scrapping of every prospect for an end to the arms race.” Apparently, members of the Russian military took note of his comments, and initiated steps that could conceivably begin to see advanced military projects enter the realm of space, in an effort to keep up with western initiatives.