US Accuses Russia Of Placing An Anti-Satellite Weapon In The Same Orbit As Its Spy Satellite

Ujjwal Shrotryia

May 22, 2024, 05:34 PM | Updated 05:34 PM IST

US says Russia's anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon can cause widespread destruction in space. (File)
US says Russia's anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon can cause widespread destruction in space. (File)

The US has accused Russia of launching an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon into the orbit of an American spy satellite operated by its National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

The satellite — Cosmos 2576 — launched just a week ago (on May 16) by a Russian Soyuz rocket, placed at least nine satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). However, the Cosmos 2576, which the US Space Command (USSPACECOM) says is a counterspace weapon, was inserted into the same orbit as the US NRO satellite, USA 314.

USSPACECOM said, “We have observed nominal activity and assess it is likely a counterspace weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit.”

It added "Russia deployed this new counterspace weapon into the same orbit as a US government satellite."

This comes a day after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), led by the US, Britain, and France, vetoed a proposal led by Russia to ban ASAT weapons in space.

Last month, the UNSC rejected (vetoed by Russia) a similar proposal led by the US and Japan to ban weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — nuclear weapons — that could render satellites in space non-operational.

In February this year, US intelligence warned about Russia's plans to deploy an ASAT weapon in space that could potentially be a nuclear explosive device. The US claims that the electromagnetic radiation from a nuclear explosive blast could blind and potentially render all satellites in space, both civilian and military, non-operational.

If such a weapon is actually deployed, it will be in violation of the Outer Space Treaty signed by more than 130 countries, including Russia.

According to the Pentagon, the new Russian satellite is exhibiting similar behaviour to counter-space payloads deployed by Russia from 2019 to 2022.

The Cosmos 2576 is trailing behind the USA 314, a bus-sized spy satellite, with a much higher orbital velocity.

Russia denied these claims by the US as fake news.

Its Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, "I don't think we should respond to any fake news from Washington." He added that, "the Americans can say whatever they want but our policy does not change from this."

Russia has repeatedly warned about shooting down US satellites, including SpaceX Starlink satellites, that are supporting Ukraine in its defensive efforts.

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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