US says Russia developing anti-satellite weapon; Kremlin calls it a ruse to pass Ukraine aid bill

The White House on Thursday said it received intelligence that Russia was developing a space-based anti-satellite weapon but said it poses no immediate threat.  

Adding that the weapon was currently not operational, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US officials are analysing the information they have on the emerging technology and have consulted with allies and partners on the matter. “This is not an active capability that’s been deployed, and though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety,” Kirby said on Thursday.

On whether the weapon was nuclear-capable or nuclear-powered, Kirby just said that the weapon was “space-based” but refused to add more details. “We’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth,” he said. 

However, the latest weapon could pose a lethal risk to astronauts in low orbit, along with potentially disrupting vital military and civilian satellites, Kirby said. 

The threat came to light after Mike Turner, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, issued an unusual warning about a serious national security threat and called on Biden to declassify all information relating to this threat. 

If the allegations are true, then it would be a breach of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction into orbit or to station weapons in outer space in any other manner. More than 130 countries have signed the agreement, including Russia and the US.

However, Moscow hit out at the US claims, calling them “malicious fabrication”. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov: “It’s obvious that Washington is trying to force Congress to vote on the aid bill by hook or by crook. Let’s see what ruse the White House will use.”

In 2020,  the US and UK had alleged that Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon in space. According to the US, Russia conducted a “non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon”. However, Russia dismissed the accusations as “propaganda”. The Russian foreign ministry also called on the US and the UK to “show professionalism and to sit down for talks instead of some propagandistic information attacks.”


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