Russia to Keep U.S. Astronauts From ISS Because of Sanctions?

May 14, 2014 07:44 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Russia has announced that it will keep U.S. astronauts from the International Space Station, an apparent response to the sanctions given out by the U.S. over Russia's role in the crisis in Ukraine.

The U.S. said earlier this month it would deny export licenses for a number of high-technology items sought by Russia as punishment for its annexation of Crimea, according to the Associated Press.

"These sanctions are out of place and inappropriate," Russia's deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said of the move in a statement to the media. "We have enough of our own problems."

Rogozin warned the U.S. that such sanctions could have a "boomerang effect," and he made good on those words, by threatening to end the U.S.' involvement on the ISS.

He added that U.S. involvement isn't necessary for the continuation of the station, claiming "the Russian segment can exist independently from the American one. The U.S. one cannot," according to AP.

"After 2020, we would like to divert these funds [used for ISS] to more promising space projects," he said to reporters.

The U.S. and Russian space programs have cooperated in launching and maintaining the $100 billion ISS project for the last 20 years.

The ISS is run by 15 nations, but the only way to get to the ISS is by using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

Russian will supposedly not let American astronauts aboard the spacecraft after 2020.

Russia has also said it won't sell rocket engines to the U.S. either for military satellite launches.

The U.S. had hoped to keep the ISS operational until 2024, but Russia has officially denied that proposal, according to AP.

The news came a day before three astronauts, returned to Earth from the ISS. Russian Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan had spent 188 days in space.

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