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Russia Announces They Will Suspend ISS Cooperation Due to Sanctions

Russia Announces They Will Suspend ISS Cooperation Due to Sanctions
Source: Quartz

Russia has stated that it will cease collaboration with other nations on the International Space Station unless the country’s sanctions are eliminated. The “establishment of regular cooperation between partners” on the ISS and other programs, according to Dmitry Rogozin, the chairman of Russian space agency Roscosmos, is only feasible with the “full and unconditional withdrawal of unlawful sanctions.”

Rogozin claims to have challenged the sanctions in letters to NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, according to translated versions of his tweets. The CSA verified the letter’s legitimacy to The Verge but declined to comment more. Rogozin also shared photographs of what looks to be each country’s response. News outlets also reached out to NASA and the European Space Agency, but did not receive a response right away.

“The United States continues to support international government space cooperations, particularly those activities related with managing the International Space Station with Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson writes in the letter. “New and existing export control mechanisms in the United States continue to allow collaboration between the United States and Russia to assure the ISS’s sustained safe functioning.”

“I can tell you that Canada continues to support the ISS program, and is devoted to its safe and successful operations,” the CSA said in answer to Rogozin’s request. Meanwhile, ESA Director Josef Aschbacher responded by saying that he will forward Rogozin’s proposal to the agency’s member nations for consideration.

“Our partners’ position is clear: sanctions will not be eased,” adds Rogozin. “The sanctions are designed to crush the Russian economy, drive our people to despair and starvation, and bring our country to its knees.” Rogozin also stated that Roscosmos would shortly select a date for Russia’s withdrawal from the ISS, which will be communicated to Russian government leaders.

President Joe Biden announced penalties in February, and Rogozin reacted angrily, implying that the space station may come crashing down to Earth without Russia’s help. As my colleague Loren Grush points out, Russia’s departure from the station has the potential to do serious harm because NASA relies on Russia to keep the ISS in orbit.

NASA said on Thursday that Russia was “working toward” extending its collaboration on the International Space Station until 2030, but Rogozin’s words made this appear doubtful. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth safely earlier this week atop a Russian Soyuz rocket with two cosmonauts. There had been fears regarding Vande Hei’s return home due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, but Roscosmos insisted that he would not be stranded on the ISS.