Russia announces it will suspend cooperation with the ISS until sanctions are lifted

Russia has said it will end cooperation with other nations on the International Space Station until sanctions imposed on the country are lifted. Dmitry Rogozin, director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, announced in a thread on Twitter that the “restoration of normal relations between partners” on the ISS and other projects is only possible with the “complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions”.

In translated versions of his tweets, Rogozin says he appealed the sanctions in letters to NASA, the European Space Agency, as well as the Canadian Space Agency. Rogozin also posted images of what appears to be each country’s response — The edge contacted NASA, ESA and CSA to confirm their authenticity, but did not immediately respond.

“The United States continues to support international governmental space cooperation, particularly activities associated with the operation of the ISS with Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan,” reads the letter signed by the administrator. of NASA, Bill Nelson. “New and existing U.S. export controls continue to enable U.S.-Russian cooperation to ensure continued safe operations of the ISS.”

The CSA appears to have a similar response to Rogozin’s request, stating “I can assure you that Canada continues to support the ISS program and is dedicated to its safe and successful operations.” Meanwhile, ESA chief Josef Aschbacher replied that he would forward Rogozin’s request to the agency’s member states for assessment.

“The position of our partners is clear: the sanctions will not be lifted,” Rogozin said. “The purpose of the sanctions is to kill the Russian economy, to plunge our people into despair and hunger and to bring our country to its knees.” Rogozin adds that Roscosmos will soon determine a date on which to end Russia’s involvement with the ISS, which will then be reported to Russian government officials.

Rogozin reacted strongly to the sanctions imposed by President Joe Biden in February, insinuating that the space station could crash to Earth without Russian involvement. As my colleague Loren Grush points out, Russia’s withdrawal from the station has the potential to do real damage, as NASA relies on Russia to maintain the position and orientation of the ISS in space.

On Thursday, NASA said Russia was “moving towards” extending its cooperation on the ISS until 2030, but Rogozin’s statements make that unlikely. Earlier this week, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned safely to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket with two cosmonauts. Prior to his arrival, there had been concerns he would return home amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, but Roscosmos maintained he would not beach Vande Hei on the ISS.

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