Russia will leave the International Space Station after its current commitment expires at the end of 2024, the new head of Russia’s space agency said on Tuesday, underscoring the tensions between Washington and Moscow that have spiked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Russian space officials including a predecessor to Yuri Borisov, who was appointed this month to run Roscosmos, a state-controlled corporation in charge of the country’s space program, had made declarations in recent months that Russia was planning to leave. But they had all left ambiguity about when it would happen or whether a final decision had been made.
The stance on Tuesday was sharper.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Mr. Borisov said during a meeting between Mr. Borisov and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Borisov told Mr. Putin that Russia would fulfill its commitments through 2024. “I think that by this time we will begin to form the Russian orbital station,” he said.
Mr. Putin’s response: “Good.”
NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it is not clear whether Russia has formally communicated to NASA and the other space station partners that it would leave the project. In the past, NASA has said that it intends to continue operating the space station through the end of 2030.
“This could be bluster from the Russians,” said Phil Larson, who was a White House space adviser during the Obama administration. “It could be revisited or it could come to fruition.”
The announcement may not mean that the station ceases to exist after 2024, but experts say it clouds the prospect of keeping the station going through the end of the decade.