Russian Cosmonaut Quits Space Program to Avoid Working With Americans

A Russian cosmonaut decided he would rather give up his job than work with Americans.

Alexander Skvortsov, 56, whom one Russian outlet has described as the "hero of Russia," recently made his disdain for working with Americans known in an interview, according to Futurism.com.

Skvortsov said his decision to retire included a number of factors, such as the possibility of working with Americans on another mission at the International Space Station. He said his work with Americans consisted of helping "them to carry out their experiments."

"It would have been nothing if the program included interesting work on the Russian segment, but most of the time I would have to work for the Americans, that is, to help them carry out their experiments," Skvortsov said.

Skvortsov's comments come amid Russia's more than 2-month-old invasion of Ukraine. Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress for a $33 billion package to help the Ukrainians in their fight against Russia. About $20 billion would be directed to Ukraine's armed forces.

Alexander Skvortsov
Alexander Skvortsov recently announced his retirement from Russia's space program. One of the reasons he gave was that he would've had to work with Americans if he continued. Above, Skvortsov eats an apple after landing in Kazakhstan on February 6, 2020. (Photo by SERGEI ILNITSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) SERGEI ILNITSKY/Getty Images

Russia recently threatened the U.S. with retaliation, calling recent measures such as possibly listing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and seizing Russian assets "idiotic."

Skvortsov provided other reasons for his move to retire, such as his age.

"Sorry, but there is no proper motivation for this. In a few days I will be 56 years old. I do not want to celebrate my 60th anniversary in orbit. We must stop in time," Skvortsov said.

Skvortsov said he is not leaving with any hard feelings toward Roscosmos, the state corporation of the Russian Federation responsible for the space program, or its director, Dmitry Rogozin.

Late last month, Russia secretly launched a military payload into orbit. The launch was a success and done with a "combat crew" ... "in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defence," according to a Ministry statement.

In March, the Russian space agency batted down the notion that three of its cosmonauts were displaying their support for Ukraine with their attire. The agency, on social media, called the idea that cosmonauts, headed for the International Space Station, were wearing yellow and blue suits in order to match the Ukrainian flag "crazy."

The program said that not every color always means something, stating that "sometimes yellow is just yellow."

In response to Newsweek, NASA sent the following statement:

"NASA continues working with all our international partners, including the State Space Corporation Roscosmos, for the ongoing safe operations of the International Space Station."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Update 5/6/22, 1:23 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from NASA.