MOSCOW, April 27 (RIA Novosti)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sacked Russian Air Force Commander, Colonel-General Alexander Zelin and dismissed him from military service, the Kremlin said on Friday.
Zelin, 59, has occupied the top military post for five years, during which the air force has begun to receive new aircraft and equipment in significant numbers for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union.
“To the observer Zelin appeared to preside over a period where air force procurement and plans became more planted in reality than merely in aspirations,” said Douglas Barrie, an air warfare analyst at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies.
No reason was given for the dismissal but senior military commanders in Russia usually retire at age 60.
Igor Korotchenko, chairman of Defense Ministry’s Public Council said that the reshuffle was a normal practice for military officials.
“Medevedev’s move will give the road to new, younger military specialists,” Korotchenko said, adding an experienced commander Zelin would likely move on to a top post in a defense industrial holding or corporation.
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.