Russia Will Strive to Keep Its Leader Nuclear, Space Power Status, Putin Says on 60th Anniversary since Gagarin Flight
Russian must preserve and develop further its status as a nuclear and space power, President Vladimir Putin declared on Monday, April 12, 2021, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary since the first manned flight in space – that of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin back in 1961.
“In the new, 21st century, Russia must uphold its status of a leading nuclear and space power because the space sector is directly linked with defense,” Putin stated at a government meeting on the development of the space sector, as cited by the Kremlin press service and the state-run Tass news agency.
The Russian leader ongratulated workers and veterans of Russia’s space sector on what is celebrated in Russia as “Cosmonautics Day” marked on April 12 and on the 60th anniversary of the first-ever manned spaceflight.
Putin described Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight as “a milestone event that changed the world” and opened a new era of exploration of outer space.
“We will always be proud that our country paved the way to the universe and that our compatriot was a pioneer on this great path,” he stressed.
“It is our duty to cherish the memory of the generation of space explorers – to honor the courage and bravery of cosmonauts who ventured to explore the unknown… Moreover, our duty is to keep on striving to be on a par with the high standards set for us by the space pioneers,” Putin said.
He added that more than 50,000 people below the age of 35 were presently employed in Russia’s space sector, and called for more efforts to attract more young people in it.
In the same address, Putin proposed that the salaries of Russian cosmonauts, i.e. astronauts, be increased “by 50% for those who have already been in space and have been holding prominent positions in the cosmonaut team, and by 70% for cosmonauts-to-be who are currently undergoing training.”
Putin also vowed that Russia would continue to develop international space cooperation programs.
“We will continue to develop international programs. We are ready to participate in joint work with our partners in outer space,” he stated during Monday’s government meeting, while also emphasizing the link between space exploration and research and the military.
“We must use our advantages to strengthen the country’s defense capacity, accelerate the country’s scientific, technological and economic development,” Putin stressed.
Russia’s relations with the West, including the United States, have been particularly cold since 2014 when, in response to the Euromaidan Revolution in Ukraine, the Russian leader led a seizure and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, and then a pro-Russian insurgency erupted in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine. The Donbass War in Ukraine has been going on as a frozen conflict with hot flare-ups for nearly 7 years now.
A wide range of other tension points also exist between Russia and the West, from the other frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Space and NATO’s enlargement, to the wars in Syria and Libya, to the state of democracy in Russia or the fate of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, where Moscow views any Western concerns as direct interference in its sovereign internal affairs.
Ivan Dikov, the founder of HeartlandHinterland.com, is the author of the book “Ugly Bargain: How the European Union and Bulgaria’s Post-Communist Oligarchy Fit Together“, among other books.