Brussels, 19 November 2021
The European Union strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s conduct of a kinetic direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test against its own satellite, COSMOS 1408, resulting in its destruction by a missile, as a clear act of irresponsible behaviour in outer space. It generated a large amount of space debris that constitute a long-lasting risk for crewed and un-crewed space activities, including for the safety of astronauts and cosmonauts at the International Space Station. This action goes also against the principles reflected in the UN Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines and will jeopardize the free access to and use of space for all States for many years. It also contradicts the position expressed by the Russian Federation in multilateral fora, including in its contribution to the report of the UN Secretary General on responsible behaviour in outer space. This puts the credibility of its stance into question.
The conduct of such tests are dangerous and highly destabilising, as potentially leading to deteriorating the confidence between space actors, increasing the perception of threats. This could lead to potential catastrophic consequences. The European Union continues to urge all States to refrain from the irresponsible behaviour of destructing space objects that generate space debris in order to preserve the safe, secure and sustainable use of outer space for present and future generations.
With this test, the Russian Federation demonstrated its capability to destroy satellites in space. This threatening behaviour entails a high risk of miscalculation and escalation and undermines stability in outer space. It is a reminder of the urgent need to take forward international discussions in order to agree on and implement norms of responsible behaviour in outer space. The European Union, and several Member States, have submitted proposals for such norms to the UN Secretary General.
The European Union remains strongly committed to the preservation of the long-term sustainability of activities in outer space, and to the objective of reducing threats and security risks for space systems. The European Union has been engaged for the preservation of a safe, sustainable, stable and secure outer space for decades and remains committed to the peaceful use of outer space.
The European Union calls on all States, including the Russian Federation, to refrain from further such tests and to contribute in a constructive manner to ongoing efforts in the United Nations on the development of norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour in outer space.