Russia said Tuesday it will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024 and build its own, The Washington Post reports.
Yuri Borisov, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a televised meeting that the agency will build its own space station.
“We will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” he said.
Russia has discussed leaving the project for several years but the announcement came amid ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The former head of Russia’s space agency previously said that Russia could only stay on the project after 2024 if the U.S. dropped sanctions against the Russian space industry and other sectors of the economy.
President Joe Biden in February announced sanctions to “degrade” the country’s space program.
“We estimate that we’ll cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports. That will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It’ll degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program,” Biden said at the time.
It’s unclear whether the project can be sustained without Russia’s involvement.
Russia is responsible for keeping the space station in the correct orbit while the US is responsible for the power supply.
“We want to continue together as a partnership to operate the space station,” said Robyn Gatens, NASA’s director of the ISS. “I think the Russians, just like us are thinking ahead to what’s next for them. And as we’re planning for a transition after 2030 to commercially owned and operated space stations in low Earth orbit … they’re thinking about a transition as well.”