NASA Issues Rare Rebuke to Russia for Using Space Station as War Propaganda

By Christian Davenport, The Washington Post

Updated: 1 One hour before Published: 1 One hour before

NASA on Thursday issued a rare condemnation of the Russian space agency, its main partner on the International Space Station, after its cosmonauts celebrated Russia’s capture of a region in eastern Ukraine.

In a statement, the space agency said it “strongly condemns the use of the International Space Station for political purposes in support of its war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally incompatible with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes.”

On Monday, the Russian space agency released photos of its three cosmonauts posing with the flags of the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic and said the region’s capture was “a day of liberation to be celebrated in both on Earth and in space.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NASA has gone to great lengths to try to preserve the partnership on the space station, which has lasted more than 20 years. The space agency stressed the courtesy between astronauts and cosmonauts living side by side in orbit and promised the partnership would continue to endure.

Earlier this year, Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, said that despite the war and tensions on the ground, NASA and its Russian counterparts “still talk together”. We continue to train together. We always work together. Obviously, we understand the global situation and where it is, but as a joint team, these teams work together.

She added that “we obviously have to continue to monitor the situation. … We have operated in these kinds of situations before and both sides have always acted very professionally and understand the importance of this fantastic mission and the continuation of peaceful relations between the two countries in space.

Last year, after Russia detonated a dead satellite that scattered debris and threatened the station, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson strongly condemned the Russian military, calling it “reckless and dangerous “.

However, he had tried to promote the space station as a haven of peace, saying that the war had not called into question the partnership.

“Cosmonauts and astronauts get along as usual,” he told CNBC in March.