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Russia says it will quit the International Space Station amid Ukraine war

Russia said Tuesday it will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024, ending its involvement in a project that has long served as a key symbol of post-Cold War cooperation.

The move comes as Moscow and the West clash over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, and casts new doubt over the future of global collaboration in space.

The head of Russia’s space agency told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the country would exit the space station project and focus on building its own, according to state media.

“The decision on withdrawal from this station after 2024 has been made,” newly-appointed Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov said, according to the Tass news agency.

Construction of the outpost in low-Earth orbit began in 1998 and was completed in 2011. It has been hailed as an example of reconciliation by these longtime adversaries.

That agreement over the aging space station runs out in 2024. And Russian officials have previously hinted that they would let the agreement expire to work on their own Russian orbital station, which they hope will be operational in 2025.

On Tuesday, Borisov, who was appointed director of Russia’s space agency earlier this month, confirmed to Putin that he intended to do just that. Borisov said that Russia would fulfill its obligations to its partners before departing, according to Tass.

He said that the main aim of Russia’s space agency should be to “raise the bar” and provide the country with “necessary space services,” such as global navigation, communication and meteorological data.

The space “industry is in a difficult situation,” Tass quoted him as saying.

The announcement comes as the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to impact everything from European energy supplies to global food stocks.

Despite the rift, NASA and Roscosmos made a deal earlier this month for astronauts to continue riding Russian rockets and for Russian cosmonauts to catch lifts to the space station with SpaceX beginning this fall, The Associated Press reported.

That agreement ensures that the space station will always have at least one American and one Russian on board to keep both sides of the orbiting outpost running smoothly, AP said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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