Russia ends cooperation on international space station and demands end to sanctions

2 April 2022, 17:31 | Updated: 2 April 2022, 17:35

Dmitry Rogozin (pictured with Putin) has announced Russia will halt cooperation over the International Space Station
Dmitry Rogozin (pictured with Putin) has announced Russia will halt cooperation over the International Space Station. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Russia has announced it is to end cooperation with western countries over the International Space Station (ISS) until sanctions are lifted.

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The country's space director said in a social media post on Saturday that western countries must 'unconditionally' remove sanctions against Moscow in order to restore "normal relations between the partners" at the ISS.

Dmitry Rogozin also said the sanctions were "illegal" and designed to "kill the Russian economy and plunge our people into despair and hunger, to get our country on its knees".

The Roscosmos chief said the West would not succeed, but "the intentions are clear".

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Mr Rogozin said in March that sanctions over the war in Ukraine could cause the ISS to crash to Earth.

He also published a map showing where the ISS flies over, implying Russia would be at a lower risk of any damage if it were to fall out of orbit.

His earlier claims were ridiculed after the US said it still had control over the station.

Russia invaded Ukraine over a month ago on February 24.

The west, including the UK, responded with a number of sanctions including asset freezes and a ban on importing Russian oil.

The UK has also supplied Ukraine with thousands of weapons, including NLAW and Javelin anti-tank missile systems, and body armour, helmets and boots for troops.

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On Saturday Russia announced British-made weapons were "legitimate targets" after an attack helicopter was shot down by a missile system supplied by the UK.

The Starstreak missile - a laser-guided weapon that travels at three times the speed of sound - shot down the vehicle in the weapon's first use in Ukraine.

Shortly afterwards, Russian news agency TASS reported Russia's UK ambassador Andrey Kelin said: "All arms supplies are destabilising, particularly those mentioned by [defence secretary Ben] Wallace.

"They exacerbate the situation, making it even bloodier.

"Apparently, those are new, high-precision weapons.

"Naturally, our armed forces will view them as a legitimate target if those supplies get through the Ukrainian border."

It comes as Ukrainian troops continue to advance against retreating Russians near the capital of Kyiv.

The latest intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence said Russian forces were thought to have withdrawn from the key Hostomel airport, and Ukraine had retaken a number of villages.

"Ukrainian forces continue to advance against withdrawing Russian forces in the vicinity of Kyiv," said the MoD.

"Along the north western axis, Ukrainian forces’ attempts to advance from Irpin towards Bucha and Hostomel are ongoing.

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"Russian forces are reported to have withdrawn from Hostomel airport, which has been subject to fighting since the first day of the conflict.

"Along the eastern axis, Ukraine has re-taken several villages.

"In the east of Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have secured a key route in eastern Kharkhiv after heavy fighting.

"This follows the liberation of Trostyanets, in the vicinity of Sumy, earlier this week."