French Defense Ministry Claims Russia Spied on French-Italian Military Satellite

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - French Defense Minister Florence Parly has accused Russia of committing "an act of espionage" back in 2017, claiming that a Russian satellite then approached the French-Italian military satellite Athena-Fidus in an attempt to intercept its communications.

"While Athena-Fidus was rotating calmly above Earth, a satellite approached it closely, a bit too closely… So closely, that one could really believe it was trying to intercept our communications. Trying to listen in on one's neighbors' [communications] is not only an unfriendly move but is an act of espionage," French Defense Minister Florence Parly said, referring to a Russian Luch satellite, also known as Olymp.

The minister made her remarks during her speech at the French National Center for Space Studies in the city of Toulouse.

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In 2015, media reported that a Luch satellite had closely approached two satellites of the Intelsat company, prompting concerns of its leadership.

Moreover, the US Defense Department reportedly held classified meetings on this issue.

Commenting on the 2015 reports, Ivan Moiseyev, the head of Russia’s Space Policy Institute, said that the likelihood of collision between the satellites in this situation was extremely small, adding that Luch was a relay satellite transmitting data from spacecraft to Earth.

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