Russian Civil Defense Chief Calls for Cooperation on Defense against Asteroids and Comets
January 29, 2014 • 8:22AM

Yet another high-ranking Russian official has called for international cooperation on the defense of Earth against the danger of asteroid and comet impacts. In an interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Minister of Civil Defense and Emergencies Gen. Vladimir Puchkov emphasized that cooperation with NASA is already under way in this area. In the context of a review of his ministry's operations last year and prospects for the future, Puchkov was asked if the Ministry of Emergencies would be taking up any new areas of work and if they would involve international cooperation.

Puchkov replied that Russia is continuing to push its initiative for a Global Crisis Center Network, and would do so in 2014 as chairman of the G-8. He then elaborated the planetary defense issue, in particular: "We do have the following new area of operations. Together with our American colleagues, we plan to develop cooperation on creating a system of defense against the asteroid and comet threat, with a working group on protecting infrastructure and social services facilities. The Chelyabinsk meteorite last year showed that threats from outer space can be quite real, and no less destructive than, say, major fires or natural disasters."

He reported that Denis Yefremov of his agency is in training with NASA for an upcoming ISS mission. "We and our foreign colleagues plan to develop further the system of space-based monitoring and forecasting of emergencies and fires, protection of socially important infrastructure from space threats, and to develop technologies for protecting lives and people's well-being from disasters."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin has been promoting the Strategic Defense of Earth for the past two years. Other Russian officials who have spoken out on the need for such international cooperation include Academician Sergei Glazyev, who is an adviser to President Vladimir Putin, and Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, as well as numerous space scientists from the relevant institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Gen. Puchkov is a career civil defense official, who served for five years as deputy to former Minister of Emergencies Sergei Shoygu, before succeeding him when Shoygu became minister of defense in 2012.