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NATO condemns Russian ASAT test

NATO's North Atlantic Council (NAC) has condemned Russia's 15 November anti-satellite (ASAT) test, describing it as “reckless and irresponsible”, in a 19 November press release.

The NAC, the alliance's highest decision making body, said the test “caused an orbital debris field that significantly increases risk to human life and to the space-based assets of numerous nations and entities”.

It added, “Russia's actions demonstrate a pattern of irresponsible behaviour and endanger the security, economic, scientific, and commercial interests of all nations and actors seeking to explore and use outer space for peaceful purposes ... dangerous behaviour [that] directly contradicts Russia's claims to oppose the ‘weaponisation' of space, and undermines the rules-based international order.”

The press release went on to express the NATO allies' continued commitment “to protecting and preserving the peaceful access to and exploration of space for all humanity, [calling] upon all nations, including Russia, to join the international efforts to develop norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviour in order to reduce space threats, and to refrain from conducting dangerous and irresponsible destructive tests like those carried out by the Russian Federation”.

Russia admitted the test but downplayed the threat of the resulting debris. During a visit to the Western Military District in the Voronezh region on 16 November, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told journalists that Russia had tested “a cutting-edge system of the future [that] hit an old satellite with precision worthy of a goldsmith”, claiming the resulting fragments did not pose any threat to space activities.

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