Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

U.S. claims recently launched Russian satellite is an ASAT

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun1,2024

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government claims that a recently launched Russian satellite is a counterspace weapon placed in nearly the same orbit as an American reconnaissance satellite.

Amb. Robert Wood, U.S. alternate representative for special political affairs in the United Nations, made the allegation during a May 20 debate by the U.N. Security Council on a Russian resolution proposing a ban on the placement of weapons of any kind in space.

“Just last week, on May 16, Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that the United States assesses is likely a counterspace weapon, presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit,” he said. “Russia deployed this new counterspace weapon into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite.”

Russia launched a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia May 16. Its primary payload was a satellite designated Cosmos 2576. The Russian government did not disclose details about the satellite or its mission.

Independent satellite observers noted in the days following the launch that Cosmos 2576 is in an orbit with some of the same parameters as USA 314, a spacecraft believed to be a reconnaissance satellite. Cosmos 2576 is in a lower orbit, but observers noted that Cosmos 2558 launched into a similar orbit in 2022 and then raised its orbit to make close approaches to another American reconnaissance satellite, USA 326.

Wood, in his remarks, did not discuss how the U.S. government reached the conclusion that Cosmos 2576 is a counterspace weapon or what capabilities that satellite has. He did note that this launch “follows prior Russian satellite launches likely of counterspace systems to low Earth orbit in 2019 and 2022.”

His remarks came during a debate by the Security Council on a resolution proposed by Russia that would seek to ban the placement of weapons of any kind in space. Russia offered the resolution after it vetoed April 24 a resolution offered by Japan and the United States seeking to reaffirm provisions of the Outer Space Treaty banning the placement of weapons in outer space, a resolution prompted by reports that Russia is developing a nuclear anti-satellite weapon.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, argued that the Russian resolution was more comprehensive. “Today’s vote is a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues,” he said. “If they fail to support this, then they will clearly show that their main priority remains keeping the freedom for themselves to expedite the militarization of outer space.”

He briefly responded to Wood’s claims that Cosmos 2576 was an anti-satellite weapon. “Now, just now, the U.S. representative referred to some kind of satellite which, in his opinion, once again in a highly likely style, can be likely, possibly, placed on a nuclear engine. I didn’t even understand what he was talking about,” he said. “But that’s not what is important.”

Wood, in his remarks, did not claim the new Russian satellite was a nuclear weapon or was nuclear powered, and U.S. officials have previously said they do not believe Russia has yet deployed a nuclear weapon in space.

Wood and representatives of other Western nations said they opposed the Russian resolution because of long-standing concerns about the difficulties verifying a ban on weapons in space. They also alleged that Russia did not act in good faith in negotiations about its resolution, with Wood calling the resolution the “culmination of Russia’s campaign of diplomatic gaslighting and dissembling.”

The Security Council did not approve Russia’s resolution, with 7 of 15 members, including Russia and China, voting in favor of it. Seven other nations, including France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, voted against it. Switzerland abstained.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “U.S. claims recently launched Russian satellite is an ASAT”
  1. It’s alarming that Russia would potentially weaponize satellites in space. We must ensure that outer space remains peaceful and open for scientific exploration. The U.S. government needs to address this issue with urgency and transparency.

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