White House officials said Tuesday that the United States is exploring ways to “mitigate” Russia’s potential exit from the International Space Station, though they noted Moscow has not provided Washington with formal notification of its intent to withdraw from the collaboration after 2024.
“The [Russian] government has not formally notified the United States of their intentions to withdraw from the ISS,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing Tuesday afternoon, referring to the International Space Station.
“We are exploring options to mitigate the potential impacts on the ISS beyond 2024 if Russia does withdraw,” she said. “For our part, we remain committed to working with ISS partners to ensure the safe operation of the ISS and the astronauts who are on board.”
White House national security spokesman John Kirby made similar comments to reporters earlier Tuesday, noting that the White House is aware of Russia’s public comments.
Russia’s new space chief, Yuri Borisov, said earlier Tuesday that Moscow planned to withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” he said.
The announcement has thrown the fate of the International Space Station into doubt. The space station is a partnership between the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe. NASA says there were plans to operate the station through 2030.
It’s unclear precisely what the U.S. could do to mitigate the impact of the Russians withdrawing from the space collaboration.
The pledge to withdraw from the International Space Station is the latest sign of boiling tensions between Russia and the U.S. over Moscow’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine, which just entered its sixth month.
Russia has threatened to withdraw from the space station in recent months but Tuesday’s announcement seemed more concrete, having apparently won approval from Russian President Vladimir Putin.