Russia Shares CGI Video of Dismantled ISS as Tensions Rise Amid Ukraine Conflict

Russia's Roscosmos space agency has produced a video clip depicting the International Space Station (ISS) being split apart, with the Russian section becoming separate.

The video, accompanied by upbeat music, used real footage of Russian cosmonauts on board the ISS closing airlock doors that separate sections of the station.

It then shows a mission control team watching a computer-generated video of the Russian segment of the ISS separating from the rest of the station and floating away.

The clip was shared to the social media platform Telegram on Saturday by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, along with the following caption, which has been translated from Russian: "The Roscosmos television studio jokingly demonstrated the possibility of Russia withdrawing from the ISS project—the undocking of the Russian segment of the station, without which the American part of the project cannot exist."

Newsweek has contacted Roscosmos for comment.

The clip was shared as the future of space cooperation between Russia and the rest of the world seems increasingly bleak amid the global condemnation of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The invasion resulted in the deaths of at least 364 civilians, including 25 children, between February 24 and March 5, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Sunday.

Russia's space agency has been one target of sanctions imposed upon the country, and it has responded by cutting links with countries such as Germany, with which Roscosmos said it would not conduct joint experiments on the ISS; the U.S., to which Russia said it would no longer sell rocket engines; and the U.K.

Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, has been particularly outspoken about the space agency's relationship with other countries recently and he has placed the blame on them for what he has called "the collapse of cooperation in space."

Regarding the ISS in particular, Rogozin stated on February 24 that if Russia pulled out of the ISS due to declining international relations then the station could enter "an uncontrolled deorbit" since Russian thrusters are used to keep it in place.

Speaking to Newsweek last week, space experts dismissed this idea and said it would be possible for NASA to take over Russia's responsibility in this regard and operate the station solo instead of working with them—though this would mean the end of more than 20 years of international cooperation on the station.

Jeff Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut and a professor of aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said it might indeed be the case that Russia could close off its section of the ISS and operate it independently from the rest, but he questioned whether it would have the resources to do so.

Both NASA and Roscosmos told Newsweek at the time that they would continue to work internationally to ensure the proper functioning of the ISS—though the video shared by RIA Novosti appears to suggest a different outcome.

Interestingly the video features footage of Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut currently aboard the ISS who traveled there in April last year aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Astronauts and cosmonauts usually return to Earth in the same spacecraft that they arrived on, and Vande Hei is due to return to Earth on March 30.

International Space Station
The International Space Station, seen orbiting the Earth from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in September 2006. The ISS has been a collaborative venture, largely between the U.S. and Russia, for over 20 years. NASA/Getty