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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airplanes Can Be Shot Down Without Warning

The government has approved a range of counterterrorism provisions, including one that allows hijacked planes to be shot down without warning.

The provisions were drawn up by the Defense Ministry and the Federal Security Service and approved by the government Saturday in an attempt to tie up loose ends in a 2006 counterterrorism law. Planes can be shot down and sea vessels destroyed without warning if authorities receive "reliable information" that they are being used to carry out a terrorist attack, Kommersant reported Wednesday. Previously, the military could only destroy planes and ships if they ignored official warnings. They can now also be destroyed without warning if there is "a real danger to people's lives or of an environmental catastrophe," according to the new provisions.

But some fear that the changes will not help avert disaster. "The pilot could be taken as the source for the 'reliable information,'" Oleg Bulenkov, deputy flight safety chief at Rossia airline, told Kommersant. The pilot could deny that the plane had been hijacked out of fear for his own safety, he said.

Planes that illegally enter Russian airspace and do not respond to repeated radio warnings can also be shot down, but not before fighter jets fire warning shots. The new provisions also forbid the use of weapons against visibly pregnant women, disabled people and minors unless they are armed and present a threat.