The tensions between the US and Russia continue to be high, so it is not surprising that they have now spread beyond Earth. After all, since the 1960s, space has been a theatre of national competition and soft diplomacy. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is led by Director General Dmitry Rogozin who has made it clear that the sanctions against Russia are affecting the agency’s work and clearly stated that the country is ready to walk away from the International Space Station (ISS).
"We have more than enough rockets but nothing to launch them with," Rogozin is reported saying by Reuters while addressing members of the Russian parliament. "We have spacecraft that are nearly assembled but they lack one specific microchip set that we have no way of purchasing because of the sanctions."
There are sanctions against Russia for multiple reasons. These include the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as alleged election meddling, cyber-attacks, and the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Moscow denies these latter accusations. The US and the EU both also have sanctions against Rogozin.
In a statement published last week by Roscomos, Rogozin raised these issues with NASA’s administrator Bill Nelson, as well as pointing out NASA’s own plans to step away from the ISS. The Trump administration was planning to turn over the ISS to the private sector after 2024, as NASA shifts its focus to the moon. According to Roscosmos, there’s an “absence of any official information” regarding the future of the ISS.