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Russian space chief says US sanctions keep satellites grounded

Published: Updated:

Russia is unable to launch some satellites due to a lack of microchips that are on a list of restricted imports, Tass reported Monday, citing 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.

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Russia has faced an array of sanctions since its 2014 annexation of Crimea that have been expanded several times after allegations of cyber-attacks, election meddling and spying. However, the Kremlin generally brushes off the impact 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 won’t give up Crimea, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin told lawmakers, according to Tass. Russia views the measures as illegitimate but won’t 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 licenses to purchase goods with military applications. Rogozin has been personally sanctioned since 2014, when he was a deputy prime minister.

Russia’s space program 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 began manned flights.

Rogozin said Roscosmos may also lose its bid for a new contract with the low-earth orbit satellite startup OneWeb to Musk due to sanctions pressure, Interfax reported from the event.

Russia is also facing unprecedented pressure in defense sales to its partners, the head of the federal service for military-technical cooperation told Putin at a meeting Monday.