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Russia wants launch guarantees from Europe’s Arianespace

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Russia’s space agency on Wednesday demanded legal guarantees from Europe’s Arianespace and OneWeb that satellites Moscow is set to launch this year will not be used for military purposes.

Roscosmos also said demanded the British government had to give up its stake in OneWeb, a global satellite communications company, because of “Britain’s hostile position on Russia.”

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The statement from the Russian space agency came as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of pro-Westen Ukraine went into its seventh day. Since then hundreds of Ukrainian civilians including children have been reported as killed.

“We demand exhaustive legally binding guarantees that OneWeb will not use these satellites for military purposes and will not provide these services to relevant military structures,” Roscosmos said.

The space agency said the deadline to provide the guarantees was 1830 GMT Friday. Otherwise, it said, the launch of a Soyuz with 36 satellites set for Saturday will be cancelled.

British operator OneWeb has been working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites to provide enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the planet.

The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.

Arianespace, which has worked with Russia for close to two decades, is under contract to make 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.

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