Russian anti-satellite fire reignites specter of space warfare

After Moscow fired on Monday, November 15, of a missile against one of its old satellites which was no longer operational, questions remain about the real motivations of Russia. Why did she take the risk of such a shot when she herself had two cosmonauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) and the debris caused by this maneuver could potentially expose them? Was this a pure demonstration of opportunistic power in a context of renewed strategic competition?

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The day after the confirmation of this shooting by the Russian authorities who welcomed the “Success” of their operation, international reactions were unanimous in denouncing this operation. ” The safety and security of all actors who seek to explore and use outer space for peaceful purposes have been recklessly endangered ”, notably criticized the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. It is “An irresponsible act”, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. In Paris, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, described the Russians as ” space wreckers’ while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, condemned “A destabilizing action”.

However, according to a number of observers, this shooting was partly predictable. “It was not a mistake”, confirmed at World the spokesperson for the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Hervé Grandjean, Tuesday, November 16. “We knew that Russia had already made a dozen attempts at this type of fire. This test is therefore not a strategic surprise for France ”, he assured. The United States, whose superiority is undisputed to this day in space, were the first to attribute this shot to Russia on the night of Monday to Tuesday, even before its official confirmation by Moscow.

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A field of conflict like any other

Regarding the geopolitical subtext of such a shot, French sources are much more cautious. No association has been made, for example, with the current tensions on the Ukrainian border and in Belarus. In a domain by nature extremely confidential where everything is classified, public analysis is limited to regretting a gesture of opportunity which would be intended, for Russia, to demonstrate its spatial capabilities. Analysis partly confirmed by Moscow, which went so far as to regard Washington’s accusations as « hypocrites » considering that the debris generated did not represent ” no threat ” for “Space activity”.

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Russian anti-satellite fire reignites specter of space warfare