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ESA unlike NASA to continue space cooperation with Russia

April 08, 2014, 5:18 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

A number of ESA officials said the diplomatic tensions over Russia’s moves in the Ukraine are like a choppy sea surface

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WASHINGTON, April 08, 5:07 /ITAR-TASS/. The European Space Agency (ESA) has no intentions at all of reviewing its space cooperation with Russia, despite the latter’s merger with Crimea and NASA’s recent announcement of pulling out from joint projects with Moscow, weekly reported referring to ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Last week, 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.

NASA’s statement on Facebook read 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.”

“Jean-Jacques Dordain, director-general of the 20-nation European Space Agency, said none of his governments - almost all members of NATO - nor anyone from the 28-nation European Union has suggested that Europe shut down any of its multiple space-policy arrangements with Russia,” reported. “Unlike NASA, Europe has multiple programs with Russia.”

The weekly also added that a number of ESA “officials said the diplomatic tensions over Russia’s moves in the Ukraine are like a choppy sea surface. Down below, where business is done, they said, things are continuing as usual.” The American space agency announced, however, that it intended to continue cooperation with Russia on the maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS).

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.

NASA’s decision to suspend the majority of space cooperation projects with Russia was accepted not only with bewilderment among Russian space experts, but also drew criticism inside the US space agency as well. American astronaut Ronald Garan, who was a member of an international crew aboard the ISS in 2011, wrote in particular in his Twitter account that during the crisis, the worst thing to do is to stop talking with each other. A number of Russian space experts remarked that the suspension of cooperation would be to the detriment of NASA itself.

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