Kremlin says U.S. ‘absurd’ to claim Syrian missile attack threatened crew on the space station

The Russian military has dismissed as “absurd” a U.S. statement claiming that three astronauts aboard the International Space Station were threatened by a Syrian missile strike from Russia in April.

The statement on Thursday comes after Russian media widely reported last month that Russians and their intelligence had fired on the missile launchers after the attack on Syrian targets. The White House said then that the strikes had occurred but that the U.S. response was limited.

The Kremlin announced that then that the attack “has caused damage to some non-critical facilities in Syria, with no exceptions.” Then on May 12, U.S. officials asserted that as a result of Russia’s response to the launch, there would be a temporary halt to all U.S. personnel at the station.

Deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said at the time that “we got (sic) nothing from our American colleagues. And after we pulled out our ships, we found no trace of explosions there.”

On Thursday, he said that Russia was at the moment “not receiving any instruction” from the U.S. on “its point of view.” Russia, he said, was now waiting for U.S. officials to comment on the situation.

At a briefing in Virginia on Thursday, Commander Mark Vande Hei, of the space station program, said there were “no indications at all that there was an impediment to resuming operations” after the reported attack.

The news was published by U.S. officials on Tuesday, and added to speculation that the attack had something to do with concerns that the crew members were considering working to repair the ISS sometime soon. Officials said the three astronauts were in an isolated control area that was spared, and that Russian officers who oversaw the monitoring would confirm “the absence of any harm to the astronauts and the station itself.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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