Russian Foreign Ministry is outraged by the US “hypocrisy” in statements on space security. Russia stressed that the American authorities are well aware, fragments of the defunct satellite destroyed recently in space pose no threat to any space stations, and the destructive test itself was carried out according to international law.
On Monday, the US State Department’s spokesman, Ned Price, accused Russia of “recklessly” carrying out a destructive satellite test using an anti-satellite missile against a shattered Soviet satellite. Washington claims the test generated “over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris” which now “threaten the interests of all nations.”
On Tuesday, the Russian military confirmed that it has carried out a successful test which resulted in the destruction of the inactive Russian satellite Tselina-D that had been in orbit since 1982. Russia stressed that the US is well aware of the fact that fragments of the satellite pose no threat to space stations.
According to the official response of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, the test was conducted in strict conformity with international law, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and was not directed against anyone.
“Considering the timing of the test and the orbital parameters, the debris it produced did not create any threat and does not pose any obstacles or difficulties to the functioning of orbital stations and spacecraft, or to other space activities. This debris was recorded in the main registry of the domestic space control system. Monitoring began instantaneously and will continue until the debris no longer exists,” she specified.
The spokeswoman noted that these actions were part of the Defence Ministry’s defence capability plan to prevent sudden harm to national security in space and on Earth.
To prove that satellite destruction does not pose any threat, the Russian Defense Ministry modelled the movement of the ISS and fragments of the spacecraft destroyed during the test of the anti-satellite complex.
Минобороны России смоделировало движение по орбите МКС и фрагментов разрушенного при испытании противоспутникового комплекса космического аппарата. Ранее США обвинили Москву в том, что уничтожение старого спутника создало угрозу безопасности МКС из-за обломков. pic.twitter.com/R4RWKWbAl4
— РБК (@ru_rbc) November 16, 2021
Zakharova also pointed out that since the 1950s, the US has “pursued a course towards using space for combat operations and deploying offensive weapon systems with a view to achieving military supremacy and even total domination of space”. In this statement, she referred to the updated Defence Space Strategy and the doctrine of the US Space Force.
Thus, Washington and its allies are carrying out large-scale programmes to develop weapon systems designed to respond to the threat or use of force in space, including the testing in orbit of the latest attack systems of different types without any prior notification (like the destruction of the US own space equipment as well on February 20, 2008 – an SM-3 anti-missile destroyed a USA-193 satellite).
“Unlike Washington, Russia did not enshrine the goal of achieving military supremacy in outer space in its doctrines. On the contrary […] we have adhered to a consistent policy of preventing an arms race in outer space and preserving it for peaceful purposes. In this regard, we believe it is necessary to start, as soon as possible, coordinating an instrument on preventing an arms race in outer space,” Zakharova said.
As a basis for such work, she offered the Russian-Chinese draft Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). This could include a ban on placing any types of weapons in outer space, as well as on using the threat or use of force in space, from space or involving space.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also called on the states to assume the following obligations:
not to use space objects as weapons of destruction against any targets on Earth, in the atmosphere or in outer space;
not to destroy, damage, or disrupt the normal functioning, or change the flight trajectory, of other states’ space objects;
not to create, test or deploy space weapons of any kind for the performance of any task, including for anti-missile defence, or as anti-satellite weapons, for use against targets on Earth or in the atmosphere, and to eliminate such systems that are already in possession of the states;
not to test or use manned spacecraft for military purposes, including anti-satellite activity;
not to assist or encourage other states, groups of states, and international, intergovernmental, or any non-governmental organisations, including non-governmental legal entities established, registered or located on the territory under their jurisdiction and/or control, to participate in the above activities.
As an interim step is considered Russia’s international initiative and political commitment on not being the first to place weapons in space. The country’s government reaffirmed its willingness to discuss the entire range of space security issues with all stakeholders and is convinced that talks on an international agreement prohibiting the deployment of any types of weapons in outer space offer the right way to lighten tensions.