Daily US Times: Russia’s defence ministry says accusations from the US and UK that Russia recently tested anti-satellite weaponry in space are “distorted”. The ministry said satellite test carried out [on 15 July] did not create a threat for other spacecraft, adding that it had not violated international law.
Russia said earlier that it had been using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment.
But the UK and US said they were concerned about the satellite activity.
The head of UK’s space directorate, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, said on Thursday: “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.”
It is the first time the UK has made accusations about Russian test-firing in space, and it comes just days after an inquiry said the UK government “badly underestimated” the threat posed by Russia.
The US State Department also said that it had observed the use by Russia of “what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry”.
What has Russia said about its satellite tests?
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that one of the country’s “inspector” satellites had “carried out a check of a Russian spacecraft at close range with the use of specialised small spacecraft apparatus”.
The ministry said the operation “did not violate any norms or principles of international law”.
It accused the UK and US of “again attempting to present the situation in a distorted manner in order to… justify their steps to deploy weapons in space and achieve funding to that end”.
The statement added: “We consider this latest anti-Russian attack as part of an information campaign initiated by Washington focused on discrediting Russian space activities.”
Earlier, Russia said that last week’s satellite test had resulted in “valuable information about the technical condition of the object under investigation” being recorded.
Why are the US and UK concerned?
Gen Jay Raymond, the head of US space command, said in a statement on Thursday that there was evidence Russia had “conducted a test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon”.
He said: “This is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems and [is] consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold US and allied space assets at risk.”
Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, accused Russia of hypocrisy after it said it wanted arms control to be extended to space.
Mr Ford said Moscow aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting its own counter-space programme.
The US said the Russian satellite system was the same one it raised concerns about in earlier this year and in 2018, when the US accused it of manoeuvring close to an American satellite.