Russia’s position on space cooperation; U.S. opposes space treaty

Press Briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
April 12, 2017

As you know, today is Cosmonautics Day, and I would like to wish you a happy one. Traditionally it is observed on a wide scale as an important event. Cosmonautics Day (International Day of Human Space Flight declared by the UN) is a good opportunity for focusing on some of the most important aspects of Russia’s space activity, in particular its international dimension.

Developing the country’s space capabilities is one of Russia’s national priorities, as President Putin has repeatedly stated. Designed through 2025, the Federal Space Programme provides for the development of all fundamental areas, including the study of planets of the solar system and the moon with the help of automated spacecraft and a manned space flight programme. I would like to draw your attention once again, considering that members of international media outlets are present here, and it is very important for us to make our assessments and our vision of this area of international cooperation clear to our foreign partners.

Russia is ensuring guaranteed access to outer space from its territory. Foreign policy priorities have been defined and are being consistently followed. Russia advocates the peaceful use of outer space and the prevention of an arms race in space.

Back in 2008, a Russian-Chinese draft international treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects was submitted for consideration to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 2014 an amended version of that document was submitted.

Essentially the only state that is opposed to the international community’s efforts in this area is the US. Under these circumstances, to enhance mutual confidence and transparency, back in 2004, Russia assumed a unilateral political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space, and urged all responsible countries to follow suit. Many of them, including those that have significant space potential, have already become full participants to this initiative. Even more countries have co-sponsored a corresponding resolution of the UN General Assembly, which has been approved by an overwhelming majority of votes for three years in a row. Today, the international initiative regarding no first placement of weapons in outer space is the most effective, viable, cost-free, and transparent confidence-building measure in this sphere and it is gaining momentum. Of course, the main goal is to prevent an arms race in outer space.

It is noteworthy that back in 2005, at the Russia-EU summit in Moscow, an agreement was reached on combined efforts to prevent an arms race in space. We believe that these agreements still stand. We therefore have quite a few questions about the EU’s collective position, which was formed under pressure from Washington and obligates all EU countries to refrain from endorsing this simple and understandable resolution of the UN General Assembly for the third time in a row, which calls for dialogue in this area without even requiring any new obligations from EU countries, which cannot boast independence in their actions.

Furthermore, at the UN Outer Space Committee in Vienna, Russia put forward a host of important proposals designed to ensure the safety of space operations and the preservation of outer space as a secure, stable and conflict-free environment. Substantive talks are under way.

We are ready to work constructively on all these issues with all states in the interest of preserving the peaceful skies over our planet.

This is the first time we are observing this day and this holiday without our outstanding cosmonaut Georgy Grechko. He will forever remain in our hearts. His shining memory will live on. We regard everything that he has done for the development of the space industry and international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space as an invaluable contribution. His name has been inscribed in gold letters not only in national history but also in the world history of cosmonautics.

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