Three Russian astronauts arrive at the International Space Station in the colors of Ukraine | International

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Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveyev are seen during a welcome ceremony following their arrival on the International Space Station on Friday March 18, 2022.AP

Russia has two types of heroes: soldiers and astronauts. Their conquest of space and the Great War were the two defining events in recent history, and they have become a source of national pride for generations. For this reason, the arrival of three Russian astronauts on the International Space Station with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, while the offensive on Kyiv is taking place hundreds of kilometers from their homeland, has sparked controversy across the country, which is still waiting to hear about the future to learn a Russian TV journalist who made a live broadcast with a sign against the wr.

Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov are the first Russian astronauts to arrive at the space station since the conflict began on February 24. They wore yellow suits with blue detailing and the Russian flag, and as they greeted Earth they offered only superficial explanations of their choice. “It was our turn to choose a color. We had a lot of yellow material anyway, so we had to use it,” Artemyev said, without clarifying whether they realized their uniforms could be associated with the Ukrainian flag.

The director of the Russian Space Agency, Dmitry Rogozin, congratulated the astronauts “on the long mission they are starting”, in the station along with two Russians who had already arrived, Anton Shkaplerov and Piotr Dubrov. The head of Roskosmos also recently released a video in which he reads a monologue from the novel by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, who was born in what is now Ukraine. Rogozin said he “heard from his parents and grandparents how our country honors everyone,” as the show showed in background images of the country’s landscapes, including one that mimicked the blue sky and yellow fields of the Ukrainian flag.

More than three weeks into the war, Rogozin insisted that “no bond is more sacred than camaraderie.” “There were comrades in other countries, but there were no CMBrads like in Russia,” the director recited. A few weeks ago, he said, in the invasion of Ukraine, he saw “a unique opportunity to restore historic cooperation between Roscosmos and Ukrainian companies from the former Soviet space and military industries.”

The Russian press avoided raising the issue of astronaut colors. Most of the media has only mentioned the successful arrival of the Soyuz ship MS-21 on the International Space Station “at 22:12 Moscow time”.

The ultra conservative outlet Zargrad took up the polemic, argued in a short editorial that the incident was a coincidence and criticized The New York Times for “trying to find a political subtext in everything that happens.”

The controversial appearance of the astronauts in blue and yellow came days after a journalist from Russia’s main TV channel Perviy Kanal interrupted a live broadcast during prime viewing time with a sign against the war in Ukraine.

What will happen to Marina Ovsyannikova is not yet known. The journalist was fined 250 euros for calling for protests in a recorded video. Her televised gesture could see her face several years in prison if charged under the new law against misinformation and discrediting the military, passed a week before the conflict began.

The war has also affected international space cooperation. Planned spacecraft launches have been canceled and Moscow has threatened to suspend shipments of missiles to the United States. At the same time, the European Space Agency suspended the ExoMars 2022 mission, which was working with Russia to study signs of past life on the red planet. The country would have contributed the Kazachok landing pad, while the community block provided the Rosalind Franklin vehicle. “Do we need some kind of rover there? This is not necessary because the landing module itself is already a scientific research station,” the Roscosmos boss stressed, although he admitted that the mission will be postponed “a few years”.

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