Blacklisted Russian Space Chief Says ‘Victim’ Of Trump-Congress Rivalry
(Article ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Jan. 9, 2019 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/blacklisted-russian-space-chief-says-victim-of-trump-congress-rivalry/29699713.html)
The head of Russia’s Roskosmos space agency, an official who has been targeted by U.S. and European Union sanctions, has criticized President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers over the cancellation of his planned visit to NASA facilities in the United States.
Dmitry Rogozin on January 9 said the cancellation of his visit was “an episode of the confrontation between Trump and Congress.” He compared the situation to a U.S. TV soap opera.
“This is an element of the rivalry between the Congress and Trump,” Rogozin said in an interview with Rossia 24 TV on January 9. “In this particular case, we have turned out to be a victim of this rivalry.”
NASA announced on January 4 that Rogozin’s visit was being canceled following critical press reports and calls by U.S. lawmakers not to allow the blacklisted Russian into the United States.
Roskosmos said in a statement on January 9 that it was not giving up on cooperation with NASA.
“We are fulfilling all our obligations under the contracts signed with NASA, and we hope for further cooperation,” the statement said.
NASA and Roskosmos have cooperated for more than two decades.
In 2011, the agencies grew closer than ever when the United States retired its Space Shuttle fleet, making Russian Soyuz rockets the only way to shuttle people and equipment to and from the International Space Station, and resulting in NASA paying Roskosmos some $2.5 billion for its services since.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman, told TASS in October that he had invited Rogozin to visit the NASA headquarters and that he would seek a waiver to the travel ban against him. The invitation was not widely reported in the United States at the time.
But after a story published on January 1 by Politico about his pending visit, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen called on NASA to withdraw the invitation before Congress was “forced to act.”
With reporting by Interfax, Rossia-24, USA Today, and Politico