An open letter to the Russian leader as his deputy prime minister threatens to ground American astronauts and military satellites...
So you’re not having enough problems digesting Crimea, that half-bankrupt hairball you swallowed because it was there and looked tasty but now it won’t go down and everyone in the world is mad at you? Now you want to pick a fight in space too?
That’s how it seems, at least, after your Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced a number of tit-for-tat sanctions against the U.S. today—specifically among them, targeting our countries’ once-cozy collaboration on the International Space Station. According to Rogy, you’ll quit selling us seats on your Soyuz booster—which, since the grounding of the shuttle, is American astronauts’ only way into space—and use the station on your own, despite the fact that it was largely a NASA construction project. What’s more, you’ll no longer sell us the NK-33 and RD-180 engines we currently buy from you for our Atlas V boosters, at least for any launches of military satellites.
Ooh, smack! Now put down your lightsaber young Skywalker. Here’s why we’re not impressed:
First of all, you’ve conveniently scheduled the shutdown of your Soyuz taxi service for 2020, or four years before we plan to abandon the ISS and drop it in the drink anyway. Why wait until then? Could it be the cool $76 million we pay you per seat—cash that an oil-drunk economy like yours needs when fossil fuel prices are falling? But, as you surely know, at least two American companies—Orbital Sciences and Elon Musk’s SpaceX—will all but certainly have their own for-lease spacecraft flying well before then, and even NASA, which has been inexcusably slow in getting a next generation manned vehicle built, may be back in the game by 2020. In other words, you’re going to quit selling us a service we weren’t planning to use anymore anyway. (According to an e-mail from NASA to TIME, by the way, you’ve not even officially been in touch about your new plans, though you did take the time to let the media know—a little like breaking up over Twitter.)
As for the engines: yes, it’s true that the NK-33 and D-180 are nice bits of hardware and the Atlas does rely on them. But the Atlas pre-dates you, Vlad. Remember John Glenn? He flew on one of them, as did the ICBMs we were building in those days and pointing your way—and you guys weren’t exactly selling us the hardware we needed to take you out. You don’t want the revenue that comes from globalized trade? OK, so we’ll in-source our engines again and keep the cash at home.
Look, Czar Descamisodo, history will decide if your Ukrainian adventure was a winning hand. But the Space Race is over and America won. Even decades after the glory days of the moon landings, it’s still NASA that’s got spacecraft approaching, orbiting or on the surface of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and multiple asteroids. Russia? Not so much. The world will have to reckon with you for as long as you choose to misbehave in Europe and anywhere else your eye may wander. But in space? We’re fine without you. Tranquility Base, out.
Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia's Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media,...( ) Read all
Moldova’s foreign minister Nicu Popescu has said that his country “would love to join” the European Union and that the wish is supported by a broad social consensus. He added, however, that Moldova wants to preserve good relations with Russia.( ) Read all
Natalia Gavrilita used to run a charity. Now she’s finance minister of a country that has become a byword for corruption and says her modest goal is just to make it normal. That will be a lot harder than it sounds.( ) Read all
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Moldova's new pro-European government to continue on the path of reforms and step up the fight against widespread corruption, saying Berlin would offer Chisinau its support.( ) Read all
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale congratulated Moldova's new prime minister, Maia Sandu, and expressed U.S. support for her government during a July 13 meeting in the Moldovan capital.( ) Read all
The first batch of oil from the USA arrived at the port of the Ukrainian city of Odesa. According to the press service of the port, 75 thousand tons of Bakken grade oil was purchased by PJSC Ukrtatnafta and will be processed at the Kremenchuk oil refinery.( ) Read all
BRUSSELS — The European Union launched an ambitious effort earlier this year to combat election interference: an early-warning system that would sound alarms about Russian propaganda. Despite high expectations, however, records show that the system has become a repository for a...( ) Read all
Two days ago, the Council of Europe voted to ignore its own warnings about Russian aggression and human rights violations. Putin invaded Georgia and Ukraine, illegally annexed Crimea, and has spent 20 years destroying democracy in Russia. The CoE, including French and German support, has rewarded...( ) Read all
Maia Sandu, the new prime minister of Moldova, vowed that stronger ties with the European Union and cracking down on the abuse of power by the country’s oligarchs are the top priorities of her new government.( ) Read all
With his vulnerable country under mounting pressure to integrate with Russia, its much bigger and stronger neighbor, a Belarusian poet and television presenter has identified what he thinks is potent weapon of defense: an inch-tall piece of carved deer antler.( ) Read all
The Ukrainian delegation at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has walked out in protest after Russian MPs were allowed to return to the human rights body five years after the annexation of Crimea.( ) Read all
Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States opposed the decision of the Committee of Ministers at Deputy Level in the Council of Europe (CoE) held during the CoE Helsinki ministerial this week, which spoke in favor [1,2 points] of Russia regaining its voting right in the council of which it was...( ) Read all
On 21 of June, the Venice Commission adopted the Opinion regarding the constitutional crisis in Moldova, i.e. on the dissolution of the Parliament (see the referrence below). More precisely, it was one of the rare cases when the Commission directly and critically assessed the acts (decisions,...( ) Read all
The No.1 raider in CSI has had a very suspicious behavior in the last days. It was expected that Platon, as his prison friend, the former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, would take advantage of the change of the Governance in order to come back to the fore, by placing himself in a "innocent...( ) Read all