Russian official warns U.S. sanctions will "expose" astronauts o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Russian official warns U.S. sanctions will "expose" astronauts on International Space Station

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A deputy foreign minister in Russia has made comments suggesting that sanctions levied against his country over the unrest in Ukraine could hurt American involvement in the International Space Station program, according to a non-governmental news agency.

Interfax is reporting that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin blasted the decision by the U.S. and European allies -- announced on Monday -- to sanction high-tech exports to Russia, adding that it could be disruptive to the United States' own space program.

PAST STORY: WDRB speaks with upcoming International Space Station crew.

"If their aim is to deliver a blow to Russia's rocket-building sector, then by default, they would be exposing their astronauts on the ISS," Rogozin said, according to Interfax.

"Sanctions are always a boomerang which come back and painfully hit those who launched them," added Rogozin, according to Interfax.

Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet, NASA has had to rely on Russian-built and -launched Soyuz rockets to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station.

Last month, before the announcement was made, WDRB's Travis K. Kircher spoke with the crew of Expedition 40, three men who are expected to launch aboard a Soyuz space capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 28.

During that interview, all three of the crewmembers downplayed the effect political tensions were having between the international partners.

"It would be naive to say it does not cast a shadow," said American astronaut Reid Wiseman. "Wouldn't it be great if every country in the world was friendly? But...even during these kind of trying political times, my Russian commander Max Suraev, you know, he walks in the room this morning, we give each other a hug and he asks how my night went. And you realize that, once you remove politics, people are people. And for the most part, people love other people. And it's fantastic to work with these guys."

Russian commander Max Suraev was also optimistic about continued cooperation.

"We are still working together…to discover some interesting things for whole humans, because we are – in Russia cosmonaut team, and they are here in the U.S. in astronaut team, and in the Europe the same – away from some politicians' questions," Suraev said. "And it's not going to involve someone from my crew, and it's not going to change our flight or our relations. I believe that it's not for us. We are cosmonauts and astronauts. We are professionals. We are not doing politicians' work."

If all goes well, Wiseman, Suraev and German astronaut Alexander Gerst will travel to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz rocket in late May.

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