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Russia will cease collaborating on the International Space Station until Western sanctions are lifted

Russia announced on Saturday that it will stop collaborating with Western-led nations on the International Space Station (ISS) until these nations stop sanctioning Russia.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos wrote a lengthy thread on Twitter explaining the agency’s decision to end its cooperation with the West, the Daily Mail reported.

In the thread, he said, “I believe that the restoration of normal relations between partners in the International Space Station and other joint projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions.”

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Rogozin went on to say in the thread that he will submit a timetable for the completion of projects currently in the works to the Kremlin.

Russia’s decision to end collaborative efforts on the ISS comes after weeks of threatening to do so and delaying and outright canceling projects on the ISS in response to Western sanctions placed on the Russian economy and Russian oligarchs.

Previously, Rogozin suggested that the Roscosmos would stop collaborating with the West and allow the ISS to crash into the Earth.

He asked, “Who would save the ISS?”

This prompted Tesla CEO Elon Musk to offer the support of his spacefaring company SpaceX.

Historically, astronauts aboard the ISS return to Earth on the Russian Soyuz crafts. However, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon has made four visits to the ISS since 2020 and is able to drop off and return astronauts aboard the station.

When asked if SpaceX would keep the ISS from falling onto the Earth, Musk replied: “Yes.”

The United States supplies the ISS with life support technology while Russia provides it with propulsion, so without Musk stepping in to offer to keep the station afloat, Russia’s threats to let it drop crash into the planet posed a tangible threat.

Rogozin previously said that Russia pulling out of the ISS would require either the US or one of its European allies to take on additional responsibilities for the station’s maintenance. US officials, in the past, have said that it would be “very difficult” to operate the ISS independently.

Despite the ongoing and seemingly increasing diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia, the two countries were able to safely return three astronauts — two Russian, one American — to Earth from the ISS.