Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of defense industry these days, created a small stir when he said at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission yesterday that "in the foreseeable future the main goals of war will be achieved on account of air and space intelligence and strikes" and that Russia "must be ready for any scenarios of the development of events" (my thanks to NG for the link). The brief comments shown on TV apparently left the impression that Ivanov meant that Russia may be considering development of its own space-based weapons. That impression was reinforced by Ivanov's mentioning a new concept of development of air and space defense for the next ten years -- until 2016 -- which was recently approved by President Putin (on April 6, 2007, according to the reports). So, is Russia really getting into space-weapons business?

Probably not. I found a brief description of the concept published by Col.-General Boris Cheltsov, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, in February 2007. His version of the concept does not have anything that would hint at possible development of space-based (or anti-satellite) weapons. The emphasis is on integration of all defenses, early-warning, situation awareness, (mostly non-strategic) missile defense, and air-defense. Overall, the new concept seems to repeat the old story of air- and space-based systems playing increasingly important role in a military conflict and of the need to create an integrated air and space defense to counter those. So, I don't think the new space-defense concept includes any "strike" elements.

Not for now, anyway. Nothing in the concept seems to preclude development of this kind of systems either. The defense industry has a few old projects on its shelves and would love to get money to resurrect them.