Roscosmos Is Wrong, It’s Not “Unfair Competition” To Stop Buying Its Space Services

Roscosmos ridiculously said that it’s “unfair competition” for the US to stop buying its space services by 2023 because this sovereign decision “artificially restrict(s) the use of Russian launch vehicles on the international market”, which suggests not only a complete lack of understanding of basic economic relations, but is also extremely hypocritical since the very same statement could be issued by the US when it comes to Russia’s over-hyped de-dollarization campaign.

The US’ decision to stop buying Russia’s space services by 2023 was hailed at home as the latest manifestation of Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” and exemplifies the sovereignty-supporting policies that he’s been implementing since entering into office, but it also triggered Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos into issuing a very whiny statement unbecoming of the Great Power that it represents. The company ridiculously said that this amounts to “unfair competition” because it “artificially restrict(s) the use of Russian launch vehicles on the international market”, which was either an overly emotional response or a humiliating hint that it lacks any understanding of basic economic relations.

About the first-mentioned explanation, Roscosmos might be panicking that it’s poised to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue, though such a reaction is disproportionate in the larger sense since the company should be able to compensate with other customers such as India, and the Russian economy should be able to weather the loss of its American-derived revenue in this sphere. It might be the case, however, that its severe systemic vulnerabilities that the US is exploiting in pursuit of a “New Detente” might be worse than most observers realized and that’s why it regards the US’ sovereign decision to support domestic companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin in this respect to be such a serious threat to its interests.

Concerning the second possibility, people have always had the choice whether or not to trade with one another ever since the first transaction was made between human beings millennia ago, and today’s globalized economy is characterized by such fierce competition that countries regularly switch partners and/or decide to invest in domestic companies instead. There’s nothing morally wrong with that, and even Russia tries to promote its state companies whenever it has the chance, though Roscosmos is seemingly oblivious to this obvious fact and decided to castigate the US for “artificially restrict(ing) the use of [its] launch vehicles on the international market” by choosing to buy American ones after 2023.

It might be that Russia fears that the US will eventually sanction this sphere after it no longer has any use of it and could even put “secondary sanctions” pressure on India and others to replace Moscow with Washington as their preferred space partner, but in any case, Roscosmos’ statement is extremely hypocritical because the exact same wording could be used by America if it wanted to whine about Russia’s over-hyped de-dollarization campaign. Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of Russia, spoke about this official state policy earlier this week when she said that “We continue the policy of de-dollarisation of the financial system, and the share of foreign currency loans and deposits is decreasing”, which “reduces external risks” for her country.

Not much progress has been accomplished on this front despite it regularly making headlines on Russia’s international media outlets, but this noble cause plays to the wishful thinking fantasies of many across the world and is therefore heavily promoted. Therein lies the hypocrisy, however, since Russia has just as much of a right to make the sovereign decision not to use the dollar as the US does when it comes to not using Russia’s space services, but Roscosmos either doesn’t understand this or is playing dumb in order to score points attacking America and gin up international sympathy for its forthcoming lost revenue. Either way, such words are extremely hypocritical and reflect very poorly on a rising Great Power such as Russia.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.


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