Russia is threatening to leave the International Space Station because of sanctions enforced by the United States.
Tensions between Russia and the US are longstanding. The latest disagreement has seen the director of Roscomos, Russia’s space agency, threatening to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) over US sanctions.
Russia claims that it cannot launch its satellites because the sanctions forbid the import of the microchips required for the action. This sanction may have exacerbated existing issues with microchip production onset by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the sanctions, Russia is threatening serious action.
According to CNBC News, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin told the Russian parliament:
If the sanctions… remain and are not lifted in the near future, the issue of Russia’s withdrawal from the ISS will be the responsibility of the American partners.
Either we work together, in which case the sanctions are lifted immediately, or we will not work together and we will deploy our own station.
Rogozin also discussed the frustrations the Russian space agency were facing:
We have more than enough rockets but nothing to launch them with. 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.
This isn’t the first time that Rogozin has made strong statements about the US during times of tension. In 2014, after sanctions were placed against Russia because of its occupation of Crimea, Rogozin said that NASA could use trampolines to reach the ISS, as they wouldn’t be using the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Russia has previously threatened to leave the ISS and form its own similar project. For many, the ISS has shown the ability of the US and Russia to collaborate on endeavours, and if a schism occurs, it could be a sign of severe declining relations between the powers.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson previously discussed the possibility of Russia leaving ISS projects and noted that ‘it would not be good’.
Nelson later told CNN Business:
If Russia starts just depending on China, then, I expect we would have a whole new race to the moon with China and Russia against the US.
For decades, upwards now of 45 plus years [we’ve cooperated with] Russians in space, and I want that cooperation to continue.
Whether the unity of the ISS programme continues is now seemingly dependent on the sanctions placed on microchips.
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