Russian space agency Roscosmos is considering China as a supplier of space industry components, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. However, recent U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions could affect Russia’s space plan, the U.S. magazine SpaceNews reported March 1.
On February 26, Roscosmos chief Dimitry Rogozin told Russian media that Western sanctions will limit the purchase of high-tech electronic components for spacecraft.
“With all our efforts to promote the Russian national microelectronic industry […], it is impossible to produce everything,” Rogozin said. “But […] we have excellent relations with China. And we will solve these problems […]; we will buy the product of our Chinese colleagues.”
According to SpaceNews, Moscow turned to Chinese aerospace companies in the quest for alternatives following the 2014 sanctions for the annexation of Crimea. But the invasion of Ukraine has far greater repercussions.
On February 28, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said that “China-Russia relations are based on non-alliance, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third countries. Our position on the Ukraine crisis is based on the merits of the matter itself […].”
So far, China does not appear to be helping Moscow evade Western financial sanctions and doing so would damage its reputation; “the latest signs suggest that China’s not coming to the rescue,” Reuters reported.
The news agency also reported that some Chinese banks have stopped issuing credit letters to purchase Russian products. Chinese banks doing business with Moscow would face sanctions and risk exclusion from the U.S. financial system, Reuters added.
These prospects and the sharp fall that the ruble is experiencing are seriously jeopardizing Rogozin’s aspirations to continue his space program, the Spanish portal El Confidencial reported.
Victoria Samson, director of the Secure World Foundation, which specializes in security and military space issues, told Canadian network CBC that Russia faces major problems.
“Their civil space program is in tatters,” she said. “It has had issues with corruption and quality control, to the point where last year , not only did [Vladimir] Putin slash the funding, but they actually made it a law that Russians can’t talk to outsiders about the space program. That’s not a sign that it’s going well.”
Although Moscow and Beijing continue to bear the influence of the mistrust and confrontation that characterized their relationship in the past, they have a series of common interests that drive them toward closer cooperation, Australia-based global journalism network The Conversation said in the report Bear and Dragon.
These vested interests include countering U.S. power and influence worldwide, playing a greater role in international institutions, countering the spread of democracy, and opposing U.S. policies in space and cyberspace, The Conversation said.
“I think China increasingly finds itself between a rock and a hard place,” Matti Nojonen, a professor of Chinese economy at the University of Lapland, told SpaceNews. Beijing is “very carefully monitoring now what they’re doing […]. I think it must have surprised China how this [the invasion of Ukraine] united all the Western powers,” he said.