Russia warns Kazakhstan in Baikonur cosmodrome dispute

January 24, 2013
In this released NASA photo, a spacecraft is seen shortly after it landed in a remote area near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on November 19, 2012. Russia has warned Kazakhstan it could withdraw from joint projects if Astana insists on restricting satellite launches from Russia's rented Baikonur cosmodrome, Izvestia daily reported Thursday.

Russia has warned Kazakhstan it could withdraw from joint projects if Astana insists on restricting satellite launches from Russia's rented Baikonur cosmodrome, Izvestia daily reported Thursday.

The Russian newspaper, known for its close connections with the , published the text of a diplomatic note from Russia a day ahead of a planned meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Kazakh counterpart Yerlan Idrisov in Moscow.

"In the current situation, Russia will be forced to reassess its position on the use of continuing bilateral cooperation on joint projects," Izvestia quoted the Russian as saying, listing joint projects.

A spokesman for the Kazakhstan foreign ministry told Interfax news agency that the note was dated January 18.

Kazakhstan has restricted the number of permitted commercial satellite launches by Russia in a simmering dispute about the fall zone of debris from the launches.

For 2013, it has permitted 12 launches of Proton-M rockets, down from 14 last year.

Sources in the told Izvestia that the restrictions meant tearing up five contracts and returning up to $500 million to clients.

Roscosmos spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov confirmed to AFP that Kazakhstan had cut the number of planned Proton-M launches in 2013 to 12, down from the 17 requested by Russia.

Russia rents the from ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, using the complex in the middle of the steppe for military and launches and ferrying to and from the .

There is no suggestion that the dispute could affect launches to the ISS.

The Russian foreign ministry argued that "Kazakhstan is vetoing launches that do not contradict the rent agreement," Izvestia wrote.

"Russia sees this decision as Kazakhstan's aiming to bypass the terms of renting Baikonur."

Kazakhstan has moved in recent years to assert greater control over Baikonur and over activities at the space base, which Russia rents for around $115 million per year in an agreement drawn up in the 1990s that is valid until 2050.

While the concerns over rocket launches are ostensibly about environmental impact and safety, Kazakhstan is at the same time reminding Russia of its reliance on Baikonur in a dispute over financial and geopolitical issues, commentators say.

Russia is building a cosmodrome on its own soil in the Far Eastern Amur region that in the future could take over from Baikonur.

Russia's embattled space programme has experienced a string of embarrassing failed satellite launches in recent years, including three satellites for Russia's much vaunted navigation system GLONASS.

Explore further: Russia launches telecom satellite

Related Stories

Russia launches telecom satellite

November 18, 2007

The Russian space agency Sunday launched a telecommunications satellite into orbit from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

Putin visits site of Russia's new launch center

August 28, 2010

(AP) -- Russia will launch its manned space missions from a new center in the Far East in 2018, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday, as the country seeks greater independence for its space program.

Russia launches navigation satellites

November 4, 2011

Russia on Friday successfully launched three satellites for its global navigation system Glonass on a Proton-M rocket from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian space agency said.

Kazakhstan mulls ending Russia's cosmodrome lease (Update)

December 10, 2012

The head of Kazakhstan's space agency said Monday that Russia's lease of a launch facility in the Central Asian nation, the only site worldwide currently being used to get astronauts to the International Space Station, may ...

Recommended for you

'Bathtub rings' suggest Titan's dynamic seas

July 28, 2015

Saturn's moon, Titan, is the only object in the Solar System other than Earth known to have liquid on its surface. While most of the lakes are found around the poles, the dry regions near the equator contain signs of evaporated ...

Born-again planetary nebula

July 28, 2015

Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.