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Russia's space chief says cooperation with Europe now 'impossible' amid Ukraine war fallout

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft, used by Americans and Europeans to reach space, in orbit above the Earth
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft, used by Americans and Europeans to reach space, in orbit above the Earth   -   Copyright  Canva
By Reuters

The head of Russia's space agency said on Thursday that Europe had wrecked cooperation by imposing sanctions against his agency, and rockets that were meant to launch European satellites would now be used for Russian companies or countries friendly to Moscow.

Dmitry Rogozin, the director of Roscosmos, said in a Chinese television interview that this would apply to about 10 rockets.

"At this moment, after the European Space Agency and the whole European Union have taken a frenzied position on the conduct of [Russia's] special military operation in Ukraine and introduced sanctions against Roscosmos, we consider further cooperation impossible," Rogozin said.

The space rift has had a tangible impact since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and was hit with a wave of international sanctions.

Cooperation suspended on Mars mission and satellite launches

The European Space Agency (ESA) said last week it was suspending cooperation with Roscosmos over the ExoMars rover mission to search for signs of life on the surface of Mars.

On Monday, British satellite venture OneWeb said it had contracted with Elon Musk's SpaceX to send its satellites into orbit after calling off a March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan because of last-minute demands imposed on it by Moscow.

Rogozin said a resumption of space cooperation with Europe in some form would only be possible if the European side reflected on "what they've destroyed with their own hands" and held a frank conversation with Moscow.

Rogozin has previously said that sanctions imposed against Russia could "destroy" the US-Russian partnership on the International Space Station (ISS), from which two Russians and an American are due to return to Earth on March 30.