United States Space Command said on Wednesday Russia had tested a direct intercept anti-satellite missile.
As follows from the ministry's statement, this test has become part of a large-scale program in which the Russian side develops and places space weapons on the ground and in orbit. The move contradicts official statements by the Russian leadership that it is seeking to prevent the militarization of space, the statement said.
The Pentagon did not say exactly when the test was carried out. According to Voice of America, which cites alerts for Russian airspace, the test took place Wednesday. The mobile missile defense system A-235 "Nudol" was supposed to have launched an interceptor 800 kilometers north of Moscow - however, without targeting the space object. The Russian regime did not report the test, while the official media reported only the American reaction.
The head of the US Space Command, General John Raymond, called the incident proof of "the hypocrisy of Russia's propaganda of space arms control proposals." Testing of such systems means that the threats to the space systems of the United States and its allies continue to grow, the Pentagon believes. US officials drew attention to the fact that this situation shows how timely it was to form the US Space Command as a separate structure designed to protect America and its allies from hostile actions in space.
According to the US military, the Russians demonstrated two completely different types of space weapons: the repeatedly tested kinetic interceptor capable of destroying satellites in low-earth orbit from the ground, and a special anti-satellite system based in orbit. The latter was tested twice - in 2017 and 2020, according to a press release.
The main problem that the United States is concerned about is that hit satellite will shatter into hundreds and thousands of debris. This will contaminate near-Earth space to such an extent that it becomes unusable for commercial orbiters. The result will be "catastrophic consequences for the global economy," said Mr. Marshall Billingsley, the US president's special envoy for arms control. On his Twitter account, Mr. Billingsley called the Russian trials a "blatant" violation by Russia of its own commitments and reported that the US had informed NATO allies of the actions of the Russian military.
"World needs efficient satellite communication during pandemic"
Separately, the Pentagon said in a statement about the so-called "combat laser system" announced in March 2018 by President Vladimir Putin. The US military called this "model of behavior potentially dangerous in general." US government emphasised that the world needs space systems especially now, during a pandemic, when efficient logistics and communications can be achieved thanks to satellites.
In July, the United States and Britain accused Moscow of conducting of fire in space. It was alleged that one Russian satellite launched a projectile at another. In August 2018, Washington expressed concern over suspicious maneuvers by a Russian inspector satellite that was approaching an American one.
Russia rejects criticism of the Western military, insisting on the peaceful nature of space tests.