Russian Space Agency Denies MSM Claims It Would Leave US Astronaut 'Stranded' at ISS

© NASANASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei takes a "space selfie" during a spacewalk that took place on Jan. 23, 2018.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei takes a space selfie during a spacewalk that took place on Jan. 23, 2018. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.03.2022
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia will fulfil its obligations concerning the return of NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei from the International Space Station (ISS) on 30 March, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, said on Monday.
"Roscosmos has never given any reason to doubt its reliability as a partner. The safe operation of the crew in the ISS orbit is our top priority. US astronaut Mark Vande Hei will return to Earth on 30 March aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft together with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov," the space agency said.
Western mainstream media have been spinning a story that Russia was threatening the US with the termination of cooperation on the ISS, which could see the American astronaut "stranded" in space.
The row erupted after US President Joe Biden announced on 24 February that sanctions against Russia in response to its special military operation in Ukraine would "degrade" its aerospace industry and ability to build ships.
In response, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin warned that the ISS could face an uncontrolled descent from the orbit toward Europe or the United States if US sanctions were to affect space cooperation with Russia.
"If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled exit from orbit toward and crashing into the US or Europe? There is also a scenario of the 500-tonne structure falling on India or China. Would you threaten them with such prospects?" Rogozin wrote on Telegram. It is believed that this is the statement which was picked up by the MSM and misinterpreted as a "threat" to leave Hei stranded.
Days after Rogozin's post. NASA spokesperson Daniel Huot stated that the agency continued to work with Roscosmos despite US sanctions against Russia.
Mark Vande Hei arrived to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-18 together with Petr Dubrov and another Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky on 9 April last year. On 5 October, Soyuz MS-19 arrived at the station with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko.
After 12 days of filming the film "Challenge" in orbit, the film crew together with Novitsky returned to Earth on the Soyuz MS-18, and Dubrov and Shkaplerov continued to work at the station.
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