Britain, US accuse Russia of firing anti-satellite space weapon

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Russia has been accused of launching an anti-satellite space weapon in a move that the US and Britain accuse of breach of trust and a dangerous escalation of the arms race with risky consequences for the community international.

Western allies had previously accused the Kremlin of testing anti-satellite weapons. But this is the first time that an “in orbit” weapon, a weapon based in space, has been fired.

Washington and London accuse Russia of using a subterfuge to cover up the operation. They claim the anti-missile weapon was dispatched from Cosmos 2543, which was believed to be in space for investigation and inspection.

British Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth, Chief Space Officer, said: “Actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends. We call on Russia to avoid further such tests. ”

General John W Raymond, commander of the US Space Command and chief of space operations for the US Space Force, said: “This is further evidence of Russia’s continued efforts to develop and test space systems, and in line with the military doctrine issued by the Kremlin to use weapons. that endanger US and allied space assets. “

The accusations come at a time when relations between the UK and Russia are already strained – and just days after the release of the long-awaited Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report on the influence of the Russia in British politics.

The inquiry accused successive Tory prime ministers of failing to find out whether the Kremlin intervened in the Brexit referendum, despite years of warnings.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab also claimed this week that Russian actors sought to interfere in Britain’s 2019 general election using a leaked government document detailing post-Brexit trade talks with the United States.

Russian and Chinese anti-satellite weapons were cited by the Trump administration as the reason the United States created its own space force last December.

The US administration had announced in the days preceding the launch of the Russian missile on July 15 that a space security exchange summit was planned with Russia.

Christopher Ford, the US Assistant Secretary of State who currently serves as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, said: “This event highlights Russia’s hypocritical advocacy for arms control in outer space, with which Moscow aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States. States while clearly not intending to put an end to their own counter-space program – both anti-satellite capabilities on the ground and what appear to be real anti-satellite weapons in orbit. “

Russian action, Western security officials say, has intensified with the increasing use of satellites for a variety of reasons, including intelligence gathering, communications, navigation and early warning of military activities.

Only four countries – Russia, the United States, China and India – have demonstrated anti-satellite capability in recent decades. And space is seen as a new frontier with a number of states establishing command and control of space systems. The latest Russian is part of a pattern of recent Russian space activity.

In February, the U.S. military said two Russian satellites were maneuvering near a U.S. satellite, and in April Moscow tested a ground-based satellite interceptor.

In August 2018, Washington expressed concern that a Russian satellite exhibiting “very abnormal behavior” could be a weapon – an accusation Moscow called “unfounded and slanderous.”

On the military side, space has already become the new frontier with several countries organizing specific commands in their armed forces to deal with both the defensive and offensive aspects of protecting their essential space systems.

Civilian space projects are being used, it has been claimed, as “Trojan horses” in an attempt at strategic domination. The head of the Russian space organization criticized US plans to return astronauts to the moon as “a big political project”, warning that he was speaking with China about establishing a lunar base of operations.

Last year, NASA announced its Artemis program, the agency’s plan to achieve its plan to have astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, said that Russia would not accept that international partnerships are mentioned by Washington.

“For the United States, it’s a big political project right now. With the Lunar Project, we are watching our American partners withdraw from the principles of cooperation and mutual support, which formed in collaboration with the [International Space Station].

“They do not see their program as an international program, but as that of NATO,” he said.

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