Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s government space agency, Roscosmos, is blaming a rift in Washington on Wednesday of sidelining his previously scheduled visit to the United States next month.
Calling it an “ugly story,” Mr. Rogozin told Russsian media outlets Wednesday that the cancelation of his planned trip to the U.S. was a consequence of “the confrontation between Trump and Congress.”
“Relations with our partners are guided by the interests of our country, and not of individual politicians,” Mr. Rogozin told RBC. “The interests of our country are to support cooperation in space, because space does not forgive mistakes and the rules of behavior in space are written in blood.”
“We are also interested in working with the Americans, but we want them to be a predictable partner,” Mr. Rogozin added during an interview on Russian television, Russia state media reported. “Going into space is akin to a reconnaissance mission: you don’t go there with just anybody. However, now we see such turbulence, in fact a very bizarre type at that, which left a nasty taste in our mouths.”
Sanctioned and barred from traveling to the U.S. since 2014, Mr. Rogozin, the former deputy prime minister in charge of the Russian defense industry, received special permission from President Trump’s administration to enter the country after he was invited to visit late last year by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, raising concerns on Capitol Hill that eventually resulted in the U.S. space chief recently changing course.
“We had heard from numerous senators suggesting that this was not a good idea,” Mr. Bridenstine told The Washington Post late Friday. “And I wanted to be accommodating to the interests of the senators, and so I have rescinded the invitation.”
Mr. Bridenstine said he had extended the initial invitation while meeting with Mr. Rogozin in Russia in October 2018, The Post reported. He subsequently worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury to arrange for him to visit, “keep a strong working relationship that was kept separate from geopolitics and even partisan politics in the United States, and that’s been good for both countries,” he told The Post.
Prior to being canceled Friday, Mr. Rogozin’s planned visit to the U.S. and NASA facilities drew scrutiny from Democrats in the Senate including Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mark Warner of Virginia.
“Administrator Bridenstine’s invitation to Dmitry Rogozin, one of the leading architects of the Kremlin’s campaign of aggression towards its neighbors, undercuts our message and undermines the United States’ core national security objectives,” Ms. Shaheen said last week. “Rogozin has a proven record of choosing conflict over cooperation, and this invitation weakens the U.S.’s global standing by demonstrating the ease by which Russian officials can get around transatlantic sanctions.”
Lifting sanctions to allow Mr. Rogozin to visit “absolutely sends the wrong message,” Mr. Warned echoed.
Mr. Rogozin was among the first handful of Russian officials sanctioned by the U.S. after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.