Jane VaynmanResponses to Chinese test

Most Russian news repeated almost verbatim the US and British press reports on the Chinese ASAT test, but there is a little info this afternoon on the Russian reaction. (Only Russian language links are up for now, translations are mine.)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov commented to reporters that he has heard reports of the Chinese test, but thinks that the rumors are quite abstract and are exaggerated.

In an interview, vice-preseident of the Russian Academy of geopolitcal affairs, General Leonid Ivashov, said that he thinks the Chinese used Russian developments for making their antisatellite missiles:

“I think that China used as a base our Soviet IS-1 (statellite destroyer) system, modernized it and carried out a test.”


“We remember Bush’s announcements about monopolization of space and his threat to destroy all unidentified satellites. Therefore it is possible to say that, it is indeed the Americans who are provoking a new arms race in space ” [Ivashov] said, noting that China is compelled to react to such US policy.

Japan and Australia seem more concerned than the Russians, and have demanded explanations from the Chinese government.

January 22 Update: Russian military expert and journalist Alexander Golts notes that there were somewhat contradictory responses on the ASAT test from the Russian Defense Ministry. A day after Ivanov’s remarks, another ministry representative told reporters that the Chinese test demostrates that China is a significant space power, having defensive and offensive systems. He said that a qualitative change had occured in Chinese forces.


  1. Allen Thomson (History)

    Methinks Ivanov lies in his teeth. The Chinese test was not anything like IS-1, and the Mishelevka radars had a fine view of the actual event (assuming they were turned on at the time).

  2. Arthur Fitzgerald

    As a student of Russian politics, I can contribute some information about the personalities involved which gives context to their comments. Sergei Ivanov is justifiably viewed as an incompetent in military circles, since he is a former KGB agent who was appointed defence minister because of his loyalty to Putin. He is prone to making dismissive statements whenether the US or NATO show concern, regardless of the cause.General Ivashov is a rabid Russian nationalist and as such cannot accept that other countries can develop sophisticated weaponry, particularly if these countries were once part of the USSR’s sphere of influence.

  3. Stephen Young (History)

    Pardon me for tooting my colleagues’ horns, but there is a pretty good summary of US and Russian ASAT programs at: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/space_weapons/a-history-of-asat-programs.html

    and, as my colleagues pointed out to me, the Russian co-orbital “IS” system is very different than the direct ascent system used by China.

  4. Charles Liu (History)

    what kind of payload are we talking about? Is the DF-21 capable of carrying it 500 miles?

  5. Tetsuya KODAMA