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NASA to hurt itself by cutting ties with Russia – agency official

April 03, 2014, 17:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW

NASA posted on its Twitter and Facebook accounts a statement announcing the suspension of cooperation with Russia in a move to side with Washington administration’s sanctions against Russia

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MOSCOW, April 03. /ITAR-TASS/. A unilateral decision of the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) to halt cooperation with Russia would be to the detriment only for the American space agency, Alexander Koptev, a NASA representative with the Russian Mission Control Centre, said on Thursday.

Earlier in the day the US space agency posted on its Twitter and Facebook accounts a statement announcing the suspension of cooperation with Russia in an apparent move of siding with Washington administration’s sanctions in regard to Moscow over the situation in Ukraine.

Koptev said that Russia, however, hasn't receive any official documents from NASA regarding this issue.

“The statement is posted on NASA’s Facebook and Twitter and bears the logo of the space agency, but it is not undersigned by any official representative of the American space agency, for instance by NASA’s chief administrator. That is why it is still early to say that it is an official decision,” Koptev said.

NASA’s statement on Facebook reads in particular: “Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation.”

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed agreements with Russia to become its constituent members on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Crimea’s merger with Russia drew an angry response from the West. The European Union jointly with the United States declared a set of sanctions against Russia.

The American space agency announced however that it intended to continue cooperation with Russia on the maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS).

“NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station,” the US agency said.

Commenting on NASA’s posted text on social networks, Koptev said “it is unclear” what other agency’s engagements with Russia were meant in the text.

“It is difficult to say now what the given announcement cost to Russia since it contains general and vague phrases,” Koptev said adding that besides the ISS cooperation NASA also actively cooperates with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI).

The Russian institute had developed a spectrometer for the US Curiosity lunar surface vehicle, which NASA launched to Mars.

“It is still unclear how this is going to reflect on IKI,” Koptev said.

He added that the majority of space cooperation programs between Russia and the United States are in the American interests.

“They [NASA] would only harm themselves by making such decision,” the officials said.

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