Russia will leave space station over US sanctions - report

Head of Russian space agency also says that Moscow’s cooperation with ISS partners will end

Vishwam Sankaran
Monday 02 May 2022 07:49 BST

Related: Zelensky accuses Russia of building ‘millennial Reich’ and says Putin ‘will lose’

Russia will leave the International Space Station (ISS) over sanctions imposed on Moscow due to its conflict with Ukraine, the country’s space agency head has reportedly said.

“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview, Bloomberg reported.

“I can say this only – in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice,” Mr Rogozin told Russian state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti on Saturday.

The Roscosmos head had also said early in April that Russia’s cooperation with its partners, including Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) on the orbiting laboratory, would end.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the ISS remains the last remaining significant space project over which Moscow has been collaborating with other agencies.

Several countries across the world, including the US, have imposed a range of economic sanctions against Moscow with US president Joe Biden stating that the move would “degrade their space programme”.

In March, Mr Rogozin appealed to space agencies around the world, asking them to lift sanctions on Russian rocket and space companies to ensure that work on the ISS would continue.

The ISS collaboration has also remained important since the floating lab, home to a number of astronauts, must be constantly maintained in orbit to avoid it falling back down to Earth.

“I consider this state of affairs unacceptable. Sanctions from the US, Canada, the European Union and Japan are aimed at blocking financial, economic and production activities of our high-tech enterprises,” Mr Rogozin had tweeted in April.

“I believe that the restoration of normal relations between partners in the International Space Station and other joint projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions,” he had said.

Last week, three Americans and an Italian astronaut arrived at the ISS. Three Russian cosmonauts, as well as three American astronauts and a German crewmate, were already onboard.

Nasa noted in February that it expects to keep running the ISS until 2030 in its “transition plan” for the orbiting laboratory.

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