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Russian Space Head Rankles With Comments

Questions the Utility of Sanctions While NASA Depends on Russian Support for ISS Operation

Comments made by the Russian head of the Russian space agency have hit a nerve when he pushed back on the public perception of US sanctions, essentially telling followers on social media in so many words: "You need us more than we need you." 

While his original comments were in Russian, giving some leeway in translating them to English in a form that's spiritually faithful, his 3 bullet points questioned the utility of the Biden Admin's proposed sanctions on his country. Towards the end, he cast doubt on the idea that the politicians involved even understood what they were demanding, given the high level of Russian integration essential to the continued operation of the ISS.  

In his first point, he reiterated the fact that Russia has already been blocked from radiation-hardened microelectronics designed for use in space since 2014, saying "As you may have noticed we have still managed to make our own space apparatus," adding that Russia would continue to fabricate the necessary equipment themselves. 

Second, he inquired if the administration wanted to ban all countries on Earth from launching their spacecraft "on the most reliable rockets in the world," asking if the US wants to "completely destroy the global competitive space market by leaving sanctions on our launch vehicles".  Rogozin, undeterred, issued a challenge. "We know, it's not news to us. Here, we are ready to act." 

His most inflammatory point centered around the essential role of Russia in maintaining the safety of the International Space Station, in comments that sounded more threatening than intended to viewers unfamiliar with good old fashioned smack talk. Rogozin has usually played things fast and loose online, gaining himself a reputation as a straight shooter in the Russian sphere. Of course, candor and sarcasm is a rare trait in western executives, making  him an easy mark to paint as a villain when reporting his informal statements to the media. Somewhat loosely translated into a colloquial voice, his series of tweets read: 

"Do you want to destroy our cooperation on the ISS starting 01/01/2023? Aren't you already doing so by limiting exchanges between our training centers for cosmonauts and astronauts? Or do you want to control the station all on your own? Perhaps President Biden is out of the loop, so explain to him that correcting the station's orbit and corrections do avoid dangerous contact with space junk - the same debris your whiz kid businessmen have sent into low Earth orbit - are made possible exclusively using the engines from Russia's Progress MS cargo ships.”

“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an unguided de-orbit, impacting American or European territory? Not to mention, there's a chance the 500-ton construction could make landfall in India or China," he inferred, asking if that was a risk politicians were willing to take. He reminded them that the ISS does not put Russia at risk with its flight path, meaning their sanctions may not be as punitive as they believed them to be. It was such statements taken as a threat most often, perhaps in part because of poor machine translation leading them to believe the agency would de-orbit the station on purpose, and not the possibility of its occurrence should support be discontinued. 

The most inflammatory remarks, however, took the Biden administration to task in wondering if they even understood what they would be putting into motion with the sanctions at all. 

"Gentlemen, when you plan sanctions, be sure to check who is thinking them up, and make sure they're not suffering from Alzheimer's disease - just in case, and I'm not speaking figuratively. for now, as a partner, I suggest you be responsible, and disavow the "Alzheimer's Sanctions". Just some friendly advice."



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