Russia brushes off Pentagon’s ‘anti-satellite weapon’ claim as speculation

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov downplayed the allegations from American officials, characterizing them as unfounded speculation Moscow would not dignify with a full response.

The Russian government moved swiftly Wednesday to dismiss recent Pentagon accusations that Moscow had launched a new “counter-space weapon” potentially capable of threatening U.S. military satellites.

In comments to Russian state media, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov downplayed the allegations from American officials, characterizing them as unfounded speculation Moscow would not dignify with a full response.

A day earlier, U.S. Department of Defence spokesman Pat Ryder accused Russia of sending up a “counter-space weapon into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite” that could be used to attack American spacecraft.

No evidence substantiating the allegation was provided. Ryder also declined to specify which U.S. satellite may have been placed at risk by the purported Russian weapon system.

The accusation escalated long-simmering tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the militarization of space and the development of orbital anti-satellite armaments.

But Ryabkov’s terse dismissal suggested the Kremlin had no interest in being drawn into a tit-for-tat exchange on the issue. His remarks mirrored previous Russian denials of Western claims that it is developing clandestine anti-satellite capabilities.

Moscow has instead promoted international efforts to ban all weapons from space through a draft treaty at the U.N., though that proposal was blocked by the U.S. last month.

For its part, the U.S. has maintained a policy stance of not weaponizing space while still pursuing advanced satellite-tracking and rendezvous technologies that could theoretically have offensive applications.

With such differing perspectives, accusations like the one leveled by the Pentagon this week seem primed to continue roiling the geopolitical space race between the two nuclear superpowers.