In several short news posts on Russia’s state-run press today, the Putin government indicated that it has backed off from its threats to end the partnership at ISS quickly.
First, Roscosmos’s head, Dmitry Rogozin, announced that it will proceed with its barter deal with NASA and allow astronauts from NASA and others to fly on Soyuz while Russian astronauts fly on Dragon and eventually Starliner.
“Why give up something that is useful? Anna Kikina [Russian woman cosmonaut] flew to Houston (USA) to familiarize herself with the design of the modules of the ISS American segment and the Crew Dragon spacecraft whose crew she may join. On our part, we are not ruining anything and keep to preliminary accords, although we continue waiting for the government’s decision on the program of cross flights,” Rogozin explained.
Second, Rogozin made statements that suggested Russia will maintain its full partnership on ISS through ’24, and maybe beyond.
Now Russia has to set up its mind about the year until which it cooperates on the ISS project, Rogozin said. “Yes, the Americans want it [cooperation] to last until 2030. The previous talks said that it would be until 2028. But let me repeat again that we have to decide on the main thing: to continue cooperation on the ISS or switch to the ROSS [Russian Orbital Service Station]. Subsequently, we will decide on what to do with our two new modules on the ISS that we docked last year,” Rogozin said.
In other words, Russia ain’t going no where. It might decide eventually to launch a new core module for their own station, and then transfer the newer modules on ISS to it, but none of this will happen until a final date for ISS’s deorbit is established.
Based on Rogozin’s earlier bombastic threats, I had expected Russia to take a harder position. It appears cooler heads in Roscosmos convinced Rogozin and Putin that in terms of cost and safety, a quick exit made no sense.
This decision to back off was also probably influenced by Russia’s losses in the Ukraine. It is no longer in a strong negotiating position in anything, has lost almost all its economic partnerships with the west, and thus does not wish to lose the one partnership that remains, on ISS.
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