Russia accused of launching ‘weapon’ in space by UK and US

The UK has accused Russia of launching a projectile "with the characteristics of a weapon" during a satellite test, warning that it could "threaten the peaceful use of space".

It is the first time the Ministry of Defence has called out Russian activity of this sort.

The US also condemned the action, describing the event as a test of an anti-satellite weapon.

The head of the UK's space directorate, Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth, said: "We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.

"Actions of this kind threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends.

"We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing.

"We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space."

The US space command said Russia "injected a new object into orbit" from the satellite Cosmos 2543.

"The Russian satellite system used to conduct this on-orbit weapons test is the same satellite system that we raised concerns about earlier this year, when Russia maneuvered near a US government satellite," said General Jay Raymond, US Space Force chief of space operations.

"This is further evidence of Russia's continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin's published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold US and allied space assets at risk."