Russians celebrate advance: cosmonauts show separatist flag on ISS

Russians celebrate advance
Cosmonauts raise separatist flag on ISS

The news of the capture of the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyssychansk reaches into space: on the international space station, the Russian cosmonauts show their solidarity with the self-proclaimed “people’s republics”.

Three Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) waved the flags of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and congratulated Russian troops on taking over the region. “We’re celebrating both on earth and in space,” they wrote in a message accompanied by photos on the Telegram channel of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists have taken complete control of Lysychansk, the “last big city” in the “People’s Republic” of Luhansk, explained cosmonauts Oleg Artemiyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov.

On Sunday, after weeks of fighting, the Ukrainian army gave up defending Lysychansk. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously declared that the entire Donbass region of Luhansk had been “liberated” with the capture of the city.

“We are convinced that July 3, 2022 will forever go down in the history of the republic,” it said on the Roskosmos Telegram channel. Residents of the neighboring Donetsk “People’s Republic” were told to “wait”.

Yellow uniform no embassy

The West imposed sanctions on Russia’s space agency after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February. The ISS is a joint project of the USA, Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia. The station is divided into a Russian and a US segment.

The three cosmonauts were the first Russian crew to board the ISS since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. When they stepped out of their Soyuz capsule in yellow uniforms upon entering the ISS, this was still understood as a declaration of solidarity with Ukraine. However, the cosmonauts chose their uniform themselves, without any political background. “We actually had accumulated a lot of yellow material that we had to use,” Artemyev said. “That’s why we had to wear yellow.”

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