A New Space Race? Russia Responds to Donald Trump's Military Space Force Proposal

After President Donald Trump announced that he wants the Department of Defense to establish a "Space Force," a move that could militarize space, Russia threatened there would be consequences.

"The militarization of space is a path toward catastrophe," Viktor Bondarev, a Russian parliamentarian told reporters following Trump's announcement on Monday. Bondarev pointed out that the creation of Trump's Space Force would require the U.S. to abandon the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, an international agreement that establishes rules for the use and exploration of space. If the U.S. breaks the treaty's obligations, it could lead to an international arms race in space, Bondarev argued.

"There's still remnants of common sense in the American political elite," Bondarev said. "But if the U.S. withdraws from the treaty, then of course, not only ours but other states will follow with a tough response aimed at ensuring global security."

Trump, however, appears unconcerned about the treaty requirements, which prohibit sending weapons of mass destruction into space. He had previously declared that space is "new warfighting domain."

On Monday, Trump also announced that the new space force would be "separate but equal," instead of being folded into the Air Force as Secretary of Defense James Mattis has suggested.

Still, the future of the project, which could lead to the establishment of a sixth branch of the U.S. military, remains uncertain. The creation of a new section would require congressional approval and a lengthy bureaucratic process.

"We understand the president's guidance," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters following Trump's announcement. "Our policy board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders."

Congress would need to modify Title 10 of the U.S. Code in order to create a new branch of the military service, and the Space Force's budget would also likely be delayed until at least 2020. By that time, a new Congress or administration could delay the process or scrap the plan entirely.

Nevertheless, the announcement demonstrates that the U.S. leadership is looking for new ways to dominate the globe militarily. Trump has suggested that he would like to set up the Space Force in response to activities by Russia and China in space. The U.S. National Security Strategy for 2017 named both Russia and China as the primary threats to the U.S.