US microchip sanctions keep Russia satellites grounded
Roscosmos chief says there are enough rockets, but nothing to launch
Russia is unable to launch some satellites due to a lack of microchips that are on a list of restricted imports, Tass reported on Monday, quoting the head of the country’s space agency.
“We have more than enough rockets, but there’s nothing to launch,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin told the lower house of parliament, according to the state-controlled news service, in a rare admission of the toll US sanctions are taking.
Russia has faced an array of sanctions since its 2014 annexation of Crimea. These have been expanded several times after allegations of cyber attacks, election meddling and spying. However, the Kremlin generally brushes off the effect of the measures. On Friday, President Vladimir Putin said that the US would ultimately hurt itself by using the dollar as a sanctions weapon.
Sanctions on Russia are likely to be in force forever because it will not give up Crimea, deputy foreign minister Alexander Pankin told legislators, according to Tass. Russia views the measures as illegitimate but will not ask anyone to lift them, he said.
Rogozin repeated a threat to withdraw from the International Space Station in 2025 unless sanctions against Russian space contractors are dropped soon, Tass reported.
The US commerce department late last year added Roscosmos affiliates TsNIImash and Progress to a list of firms that require special licences to purchase goods with military applications. Rogozin has been personally sanctioned since 2014, when he was a deputy prime minister.
Russia’s space programme is facing a loss of revenue after Roscosmos lost its monopoly on sending crews to the International Space Station last year when Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) began manned flights.
Rogozin said Roscosmos may also lose its bid for a new contract with the low-earth orbit satellite start-up OneWeb to Musk due to sanctions pressure, Interfax reported from the event.
Russia is also facing unprecedented pressure in defence sales to its partners, the head of the federal service for military-technical co-operation told Putin.
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