Russia suspends cooperation with Europe on space launches from French Guiana

FILE PHOTO; Director General of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin attends a meeting of the State Commission on the eve of a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in Baikonur, Kazakhstan December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/Pool

MOSCOW, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Russia's space agency Roskosmos is suspending cooperation with Europe on space launches from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine, Roskosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said on Saturday.

"In response to EU sanctions against our companies, Roskosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners on space launches from Kourou, and is withdrawing its technical staff... from French Guiana," Rogozin said in a post on his Telegram channel.

The European Union played down Russia's pullout, saying it would not affect the quality of service of its satellite networks Galileo and Copernicus.

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Galileo is Europe's global navigation satellite system which provides positioning and timing information used in mobile phones, cars, railways and aviation. Copernicus delivers earth observation data, documenting climate change, for example.

"We will take all necessary decisions in time to work on the development of the second generation of these two sovereign spacial infrastructures," EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for space issues in the bloc's executive Commission, said on Twitter.

"We are also prepared to act determinedly together with the member states to protect these critical infrastructures in case of an attack, and to continue the development of Ariane 6 and VegaC to guarantee the strategic autonomy with regard to carrier rockets."

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Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Sabine Siebold Editing by Andrew Osborn and Ros Russell

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