Following the attack of Ukraine, Roscosmos is turning to China as a provider of critical space industry elements and a mission partner, although sanctions might still have a significant impact on any future plans.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, told Russian media on February 26 that sanctions placed by Western countries will affect supplies of microelectronics needed for spacecraft.

“It is difficult to create everything with all our efforts to build the Russian national microelectronic sector,” Rogozin stated, adding, “We have fantastic contacts with China… and we will overcome these challenges.”

Following sanctions implemented in 2014 in reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia is thought to have looked to Chinese state-possessed aerospace industries for alternatives. The invasion of Ukraine, on the other hand, is having far more serious consequences.

According to Reuters, China does not appear to be assisting Russia in avoiding sanctions thus far. By conducting business with Russia, Chinese banks and other businesses risk facing sanctions and losing access to the US financial system, according to the report.

China is said to be attempting to strike a balance in its approach to the Ukrainian crisis. Beijing is encouraging restraint and refusing to label Russia’s activities as an invasion, but it looks to be wary of being caught up in Russia’s repercussions.

“China and Russia are strategic coordinating partners on a global scale. Our partnership is built on the principles of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third parties. China has a consistent stance on Ukraine. We always base our positions and policies on the merits of the issue,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a routine press conference on February 28, emphasizing that Moscow and Beijing are not allies.

“I believe China is becoming caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Matti Nojonen, who works as a professor of both Chinese culture & economy at the UROVA (University of Lapland), adding that while Beijing is moving closer to Moscow, practically the entire world community is turning against it.

“I believe they [China] are now closely monitoring what they’re doing and the emotions they’ve elicited.  I believe it must have astonished China how this brought together all of the Western powers… and now it appears that even nations like Kazakhstan are opposing Putin’s actions.” Nojonen explained to SpaceNews.

Under the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act, the US State Department imposed sanctions on subsidiaries of China’s main space contractors, the CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation) and the CASIC (China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation), in January.

Following the rupture of relations, Roscosmos says it is exploring new collaborations. According to the TASS news agency, Rogozin has authorized a team to begin negotiations with Beijing on deep space mission coordination as well as mutual technical support.

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