Russia has reached a decision to put an end to every cooperation with other nations on the International Space Station. Russia announces that this decision stands until sanctions put on its country are lifted. The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos – Dmitry Rogozin made the announcement and wrote 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.” If you recall, Russia has received sanctions and bans from various technology services for its invasion of Ukraine.
Although original tweets were written in Russian, in the English translation, Rogozin says he appealed the sanctions in letters to NASA, the European Space Agency, as well as the Canadian Space Agency. According to The Verge, Rogozin also posted images of what appears to be each country’s response — the CSA confirmed the letter’s authenticity but declined to comment further.
While the authenticity of the letters is yet to be confirmed by NASA, the space agency did acknowledge Rogozin’s comments and maintains that the operations at International Space Station continue and of course with Roscosmos’ input. According to a statement by NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson, “NASA is aware of recent comments regarding the International Space Station. U.S. sanctions and export control measures continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space cooperation on the space station.” Nelson added that “The professional relationship between our international partners, astronauts and cosmonauts continues for the safety and mission of all onboard the ISS.”
Response from Canadian Space Agency’s letter response states that “I can assure you that Canada continues to support the ISS program, and is dedicated to its safe and successful operations.” Meanwhile, ESA head Josef Aschbacher’s response to Rogozin’s request is that it will be passed onto the agency’s member states for assessment.
“The position of our partners is clear: the sanctions will not be lifted,” Rogozin says. “The purpose of the sanctions is to kill the Russian economy, plunge our people into despair and hunger, and bring our country to its knees,” Rogozin adds that Roscosmos will soon determine a date on when to halt Russia’s involvement with the ISS, which will then be reported to Russian government officials.
However, Rogozin has reacted rather strongly towards the sanctions imposed by President Joe Biden earlier in the month of February, making an insinuation that the space station could come crashing down to Earth without Russia’s involvement, amongst other agitations that have surfaced online. As NASA relies on Russia to maintain the ISS’s position and orientation in space, Russia’s eventual withdrawal from the station has the potential to do real harm.
For now, Roscosmos has an agreement with NASA to cooperate on the ISS through 2024. Although, the Biden administration last year, revealed plans to extend the ISS program until 2030, which Russia is yet to sign and agree on. NASA said Russia was “moving toward” extending its cooperation, but Rogozin’s statements have shown otherwise. Earlier this week, reports say that NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei made safely returned to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket with two cosmonauts. Concerns were raised prior to his return home amid ongoing unrest in Ukraine championed by Russia, but Roscommon maintained that Vande Hei would not be left stranded on the ISS.