Russia is fighting back. In the case of space cooperation, that strike-back means refusing to work with its partners on the ISS unless they “stop killing the Russian economy”.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, announced in a thread on Twitter that the “restoration of normal relations between partners” on the ISS will happen when Russia will see a “complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions.”
In case you’re wondering, Rogozin is referring to the sanctions imposed by Biden on February 24th in response to the country’s war in Ukraine. Biden implied those sanctions would deny Russian engineers of technology like semiconductors, telecommunications and avionics.
Moreover, those would affect severely Russia’s “space program”. Rogozin wasn’t intimidated by those claims, threatening to leave the ISS unattended and on a collision course with Earth:
“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled de-orbit and fall into the United States or Europe? There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours.”
Now, the head of the Russian space agency says he had reached out about those sanctions to NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and while NASA and CSA insisted these relationships are not in danger, ESA had forwarded the appeal.
Disgruntled, Rogozin tweeted his overall impression of the replies he got: “Nevertheless, the position of our partners is clear: the sanctions will not be lifted.“
He believes “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.” and therefore will proceed to suspend the agency’s involvement with the ISS at a not yet specified date.
While NASA’s understanding was that Russia was fully on board with their ISS plans until 2030, Rogozin’s incendiary remarks seem to show otherwise.