Russia said on Saturday that if sanctions were not lifted, it would terminate cooperation with Western partners on the International Space Station (ISS) and other collaborative space programs.
According to Dmitry Rogozin, president of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, the purpose of the sanctions is to “kill the Russian economy and plunge our people into despair and hunger, to bring our country to its knees.” “They won’t succeed,” he concluded, “but the intentions are clear.”
“That’s why I believe that restoring normal relations between the partners at the International Space Station (ISS) and other projects is possible only with full and unconditional removal of illegal sanctions,” Rogozin said.
Roscosmos’ recommendations on when to stop collaboration on the ISS with the space agencies of the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Japan will be presented to Russian authorities soon, according to Rogozin.
One of the critical areas of collaboration between Moscow and Western nations is space. When the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in February for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation,” negotiations on the resumption of joint flights to the ISS were already underway.
Despite the tensions, a US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived in Kazakhstan safely on Wednesday after leaving the space station in the same capsule.
On Saturday, Rogozin said on Russian national television that Western sanctions could hinder the operation of Russian spacecraft servicing the International Space Station. He emphasised that the Western partners require the ISS and “cannot manage without Russia, because no one can supply fuel to the station except us.”
“Only the engines of our cargo craft can correct the ISS’s orbit, keeping it safe from space debris,” Rogozin noted.
Rogozin had previously raised eyebrows in the days following Ukraine’s invasion when he said the ISS could crash from Earth’s lower orbit into the United States or Europe due to Western sanctions against Russia.
“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” Rogozin tweeted at the time.
Later that day, Rogozin said on his Telegram channel that he had received messages promising “more collaboration on the ISS and its activities” from his Western counterparts.
He underlined that “the restoration of regular relations between partners in the International Space Station and other collaborative (space) projects is only achievable with the whole and unconditional withdrawal” of the sanctions, which he described as illegitimate.