By Jonny Tickle
The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that it conducted a missile test that hit and destroyed an old, inoperable satellite one day after the US State Department accused Moscow of being “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
According to the ministry, the test took place on Monday and hit a Soviet-era Celina-D type reconnaissance satellite, which has been in orbit since 1982. This information corresponds with assertions made by Western media that the target was Kosmos-1408, an Electronic and Signals Intelligence satellite.
Russia described the decision to conduct the test as a planned activity to strengthen its defense capabilities and a way to prevent “the possibility of sudden damage to the country’s security in the space sphere and on the ground.”
Following the statement, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu personally commented on the missile strike, noting the satellite had been hit with great precision.
The announcement comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the missile strike.
“This test has so far generated over fifteen hundred pieces of trackable orbital debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris,” Blinken said in a statement. “The long-lived debris created by this dangerous and irresponsible test will now threaten satellites and other space objects that are vital to all nations’ security, economic, and scientific interests for decades to come.”
Blinken also attacked Moscow for claiming to oppose “the weaponization of outer space” while simultaneously sending a missile to destroy a satellite.
In response, the Russian Defense Ministry slammed Washington as “hypocritical,” while Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that Washington itself was responsible for an arms race in space. Last year, Lavrov called for rules that would prevent the placement of weapons in space.
“The plans of the US, as well as those of France and NATO as a whole, to place weapons in outer space are taking shape,” he said at the time. “We are convinced that it is not too late to develop measures acceptable for all to prevent confrontation in outer space.”
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