Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station project after 2024 and will focus on deployment of its own space station, the head of the Russian space agency said Tuesday.
Roscosmos CEO Yury Boriso’s announcement is the latest reflection of disintegrating relations between the U.S. and Russia. The two nations have worked together on the station for almost three decades. Europe, Japan and Canada are also partners.
“Of course, we will comply with all our commitments to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said. “I think we will have started work on the Russian space station by that time.”
Robyn Gatens, director of the space station for NASA, said Russian officials have not notified NASA of their plans. Science historian Jordan Bimm said it would be possible to keep the station running without Russia – but “practically, it could be a nightmare depending on how hard Russia wanted to make it for NASA and its remaining partners.”
The announcement does not appear to alter a deal cut this month between NASA and Roscosmos for astronauts to continue riding Russian rockets and for Russian cosmonauts to catch lifts to the International Space Station with SpaceX beginning this fall.
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►Mariupol mayoral adviser Petro Andriushchenko says the Russians are considering renaming Mariupol “Zhdanov.” Andrei Zhdanov was known as the “propagandist-in-chief” of Joseph Stalin. The city was called Zhdanov from 1948 to 1989.
►The European Investment Bank said it will provide $1.6 billion to help Ukraine repair damaged infrastructure and “resume critically important projects addressing the urgent needs of Ukrainian people.”
►Three Ukrainian militants from Donbass who fought for Russia were convicted of treason and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
A defense witness in the Russian drug trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner was temporarily halted Tuesday after a U.S. State Department official fainted in the courtroom, Russian media reported. The trial is expected to reconvene Wednesday. Griner spoke briefly with ABC News during a break in the courtroom, saying she has “no complaints. Just waiting patiently” for resolution of her case.
Griner, 31, has been in custody since being arrested on drug charges at a Moscow-area airport in mid-February, days before Russia invaded Ukraine. She has pleaded guilty and acknowledged that she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil. Griner says she accidentally packed the cannabis, which was prescribed by a physician, in her luggage and had no criminal intent. She could face up to 10 years in prison.
European Union energy ministers agreed Tuesday to curb their natural gas consumption by 15%, one day after Russia announced the latest in a series of cutbacks in supply to the energy-dependent bloc. The agreement, which drew support from all 27 EU ministers except Hungary’s, provided exemptions to some nations for technical reasons related to their supply chains.
“By acting together to reduce the demand for gas … the EU has secured the strong foundations for the indispensable solidarity between member states in the face of the Putin’s energy blackmail,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would further reduce natural gas flows through a major pipeline to Europe to 20% of capacity, citing equipment repairs. The move ramped up fears that Russia may cut off gas as political leverage over the war in Ukraine just as Europe tries to shore up storage for winter.
Ukraine keeps pushing to hold Russia legally accountable as it documents atrocities in the months-long invasion, having registered over 20,000 potential war crimes so far with Kyiv’s regional police exhuming over 1,300 bodies. More than 300 people are still missing, said Andrii Nebytov, head of the Kyiv regional police.
“Concerning the exhumations, I am sure that we are far from finishing it,” Nebytov said. “This week we found a man who was executed with his hands tied behind his back and a hat over his head. The expert says that during the execution the man was on his knees.”
As of July, Ukrainian prosecutors have only identified 127 suspected war criminals, the prosecutor general’s office said. 15 of them are currently being held in Ukraine as prisoners of war.
Two American volunteers who died fighting for Ukraine were identified Monday by their commander. They are Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszyn, a medic from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Bryan Young, about whom no other information was available Monday.
The State Department confirmed Friday that two more Americans had died in Ukraine but did not release their names or any other details. Family and friends confirmed Lucyszyn, 31, was one of them.
His commander, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, wrote on Facebook that Lucyszyn died July 18 in the Donbas region after getting knocked unconscious by an artillery strike and fatally shot by a Russian tank. Miroshnichenko also wrote that Young and two other soldiers were killed coming to Lucyszyn’s aid. He described Young as a “professional soldier.”
MAPPING AND TRACKING RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE:Latest visual explanations and annotated maps
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are being detained and deported to Russia through so-called filtration operations, according to a newly declassified report from the National Intelligence Council, which provides analysis for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“The filtration process includes temporary detention, data collection, interrogation and in some cases abuse of detainees” at 18 or more processing centers, the document says.
It also highlights that detained Ukrainians are classified by risk level and put into one of three categories, all of which may include being forcefully sent to Russia. The most threatening ones, especially those with a military link, are likely kept in prisons in Russia and eastern Ukraine, “though little is known about their fates.”
The State Department has called on Russia to halt these filtration operations, estimating they have resulted in the forced deportation of between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainians, including 260,000 children.
Contributing: The Associated Press