UN Security Council Rejects Russia-backed Resolution on Banning Weapons in Space

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
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UN Security Council Rejects Russia-backed Resolution on Banning Weapons in Space

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

The United States said Monday that Russia last week launched a satellite that could be part of weaponizing space, a possible future global trend that members of the United Nations Security Council condemned even as they failed to pass a measure against it.

The Security Council resolution drafted by Russia rivaled one backed by the US and Japan that failed last month. The rival drafts focused on different types of weapons, with the US and Japan specifying weapons of mass destruction. The Russian draft discussed all types of weapons.

The US and its allies said the language that the 15-member council debated on Monday was simply meant to distract the world from Russia's true intention: weaponizing space.

“The culmination of Russia’s campaign of diplomatic gaslighting and dissembling is the text before us today," US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the council, according to The AP.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, denied that his nation was trying to mislead the world. Backed by China and others, he called the vote “a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues.”

“If they fail to support this, then they will clearly show that their main priority remains keeping freedom of the way for themselves to expedite the militarization of outer space," Nebenzia said.

Every nation says it wants weapons barred from space, and council members repeated that Monday. But when it came time to vote, the council evenly split 7-7 between backers of the US and of Russia, with Switzerland abstaining. The measure failed under UN rules because it didn't receive nine votes.

“We have this negative, squabbling attitude among leading space powers that seem more interested in scoring points off their adversaries rather than engaging in constructive dialogue,” said Paul Meyer, Canada’s former ambassador for disarmament and a fellow at the Vancouver-based Outer Space Institute.

Since before humans left the Earth, the world’s most powerful nations have worried about their enemies using outer space to attack them .

The Soviet Union and the United States sent men into space in 1961. Six years later, the Soviets, the US and the United Kingdom signed a treaty declaring outer space a global commons that could be used for only peaceful purposes.

Even though nations could not wage war without the space-based communications, reconnaissance and weather tools that satellites and spacecraft provide, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty requires them to keep their weapons on Earth.

“You realize what an important conflict-prevention measure that was,” Meyer said.

It’s become even more important, he said, as a growing number of nations have moved into space. About a dozen have the capacity to launch spacecraft, and about 80 have their own satellites, not to mention the private companies with assets in orbit.

All of that could be at risk if a conflict in space causes an explosion and shrapnel, which could disable the vital systems that millions of people around the world depend on.

“A lot of people have a stake in being able to operate in space safely and securely,” Meyer said.

The US has gathered highly sensitive intelligence about Russian anti-satellite weapons that has been shared with the upper echelons of government, four people who had been briefed on the intelligence said in February. The people, who were not authorized to comment publicly, said the capability was not yet operational.



US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
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US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

US President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russian invaders.

The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, is meant to be a step towards Ukraine's eventual NATO membership, according to the text of the deal.

"The parties recognize this agreement as supporting a bridge to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the NATO alliance," the text says, according to Reuters.

Zelenskiy has long sought NATO membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top US and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defense needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine's defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine's eastern front.

"To ensure Ukraine’s security, both sides recognize Ukraine needs a significant military force, robust capabilities, and sustained investments in its defense industrial base that are consistent with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)standards," the text says.

"The United States intends to provide long-term materiel, training and advising, sustainment, intelligence, security, defense industrial, institutional, and other support to develop Ukrainian security and defense forces that are capable of defending a sovereign, independent, democratic Ukraine and deterring future aggression," it says.