Three days after Russian cosmonauts displayed anti-Ukraine flags on the International Space Station, NASA issued a statement blasting their actions.
“NASA strongly rebukes Russia using the International Space Station for political purposes to support its war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes,” said NASA.
It is not clear whether this will affect ongoing negotiations for a seat swap in September when a Russian cosmonaut is due to fly on a NASA mission to the space station, and a NASA astronaut is due to fly on a Russian Soyuz vehicle.
The photos were taken recently on board the International Space Station and show smiling cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev, and Sergey Korsakov posing with the flags.
“This is a long-awaited day that residents of the occupied areas of the Luhansk region have been waiting for eight years,” the Roscosmos said. “We are confident that July 3, 2022, will forever go down in the history of the republic.”
The images and social media posting represent the most blatant use of the International Space Station, which is operated by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency for Russian propaganda purposes since the invasion of Ukraine.