Russia has announced an intention to independently explore Venus a day after scientists said there was a gas that could be present in the planet's clouds due to single-cell microbes.
The head of Russia's space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, told reporters that they would initiate a national project as "we believe that Venus is a Russian planet," according to the TASS news agency.
In a statement, Roscosmos noted that the first missions to explore Venus were carried out by the Soviet Union.
"The enormous gap between the Soviet Union and its competitors in the investigation of Venus contributed to the fact that the United States called Venus a Soviet planet," Roscosmos said.
The Russians claim to have extensive material that suggests that some objects on the Venusian surface have changed places or could be alive, although these are hypotheses that have yet to be confirmed.
The national project would be in addition to the "Venera-D" project that the Russians are working on with the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Early reports suggested that Russia planned to cut all international partners on its Venus exploration project after Roscosmos said they would limit "international cooperation" in the Venera-D project.
But later, Russian media reported that Roscosmos would launch a separate "national independent project" exploring Venus.
Roscosmos said they would study the soil and atmosphere of the planet as well as the "evolutionary processes of Venus, which allegedly suffered a climatic catastrophe associated with the greenhouse effect."
A week ago, Roscosmos announced that the United States had refused to buy a seat on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to deliver an astronaut to the International Space Station in the spring of 2021.
NASA noted that they would like to send their specialists into space both on the new manned spacecraft from SpaceX and on Russian ships, but in a barter format.