Thursday, June 20, 2024

Russia launches space weapon

The United States has accused Russia of launching a space weapon capable of targeting other satellites, while the Kremlin has denied these allegations. According to US officials, the launch involved COSMOS 2576, a Russian military “inspector” spacecraft, which they claim demonstrates risky behavior in space. The US Space Command has assessed that this activity suggests the presence of a counterspace weapon designed to attack satellites in low Earth orbit.

Confirming the allegations, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told ABC News, “On May 16, Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we assess is likely a counterspace weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit.” This statement supports the US Space Command’s concerns about the COSMOS 2576 satellite’s potential threat to other satellites.

Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged the launch of a spacecraft but did not specify its purpose. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed the US allegations, calling them “fake news” and stating, “The Americans can say whatever they want but our policy does not change from this.” Ryabkov emphasized that Moscow has “always consistently opposed the deployment of strike weapons in low-Earth orbit,” as reported by the Interfax news agency.

What experts say

COSMOS 2576, as of Tuesday, had not approached any U.S. satellites. However, space analysts noted that it is in the same orbital ring as USA 314, a bus-sized National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite launched in April 2021.

Growing tensions between US and Russia

Last month, Russia had vetoed a US-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution that called on countries to prevent an arms race in outer space, a move that the United States says suggests Moscow might be “hiding something.”

“It’s a joke of a resolution,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters ahead of the vote. This vote followed accusations by Washington that Moscow is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon, which Russia has denied. U.S. administration officials, speaking ahead of the vote by the 15-member council, declined to share the details of the intelligence supporting their allegation.

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