Russia will no longer cooperate with Western nations on the International Space Station (ISS) until sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine are removed, the head of its space agency announced.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin declared the move on Twitter, saying that Russia will end its partnership with NASA and the European Space Agency on the space station, which launched in 1998.
The announcement came after weeks of speculation and threats on Russia's part to pull out of the cooperative space venture.
At the beginning of March, retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the process of “destroying his own space industry.”
"There’s just not a lot of business that’s going to be happening for the Russian space agency in the coming decades because of Putin’s evil war that he’s waging," Virt, a former commander of the ISS, told Fox News.
He accused Putin of overseeing a period of little Russian innovation and funnelling oil and gas profits to enrich his inner circle instead of facilitating space technology companies such as Blue Origin and Space X.
The majority of the ISS’s astronauts fly to and from the station on Russian Soyuz rockets. But Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon also gives ISS residents rides back and forth, and has travelled four times to the space stations since 2020.
The current crew on the ISS consists of three Americans (Kayla Barron, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari), one German (Matthias Maurer), and three Russians (Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov).
Rogozin previously tweeted: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States and Europe?”
Musk replied: “SpaceX.”
The ISS was built as a symbol of new relations after the end of the Cold War, with life support systems managed by the U.S and propulsion run by the Russians.
In a more recent tweet, Rogozin alleged that “sanctions from the US, Canada, the European Union and Japan are aimed at blocking financial, economic and production activities of our high-tech enterprises.”
He also blamed Western nations who have implemented sanctions against Russia for what he described as the death of the iSS.
“At the same time, fearing the destruction of cooperation on the ISS, where the role of Russia is of fundamental importance to ensure the viability and safety of the station, Western partners make it clear that in reality, sanctions in terms of work in the interests of the ISS will not work. I consider this state of affairs unacceptable,” he said.