Russia says it will withdraw support for the International Space Station by the end of the decade, in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin announced the move Tuesday, saying the Kremlin will also bar the United States from operating GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russian territories beginning in June. Additionally, Rogozin said Moscow will bar Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites.
The latest Russian sanctions come as the United States moves forward with plans to deny export licenses for high-technology items that could aid Russia’s military.
In rejecting a U.S. request to prolong use of the space station to 2024, Rogozin called Washington “an unreliable partner…which politicizes everything.”
Russian Soyuz spacecraft have carried all astronauts to and from the space station since 2011, when the United States ended its space shuttle project.
Moscow on Tuesday also repeated demands to the Kyiv government for a June 2 pre-payment of nearly $1.7 billion, for next month’s natural gas shipment to Ukraine. The pre-payment demand was first announced last week, when Moscow said energy-dependent Ukraine missed a May 7 deadline to pay down its $3.5 billion energy debt.
In Brussels Tuesday, interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said his government is “ready for a market-based approach” to gas pricing; but, he demanded that Moscow stop using gas as “a new type of Russian weapon.”
It remains unclear what impact the pre-payment demand will have on the 28-nation European Union. Russia supplies about 30 percent of western Europe’s natural gas needs, with about half of those supplies passing through Ukraine.
The United States and its European allies have imposed visa bans, asset freezes and other penalties on a long list of Russian corporate leaders and advisers close to President Vladimir Putin, since Moscow voted to annex the Crimean peninsula in March.
Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.