Russia has denied reports suggesting its cosmonauts wore yellow suits with blue accents to show solidarity with Ukraine, reports the Associated Press.
The three cosmonauts wore the suits in the colors of the Ukrainian flag when they arrived at the International Space Station (ISS), suggesting that they were a show of support for the country attacked by Russia.
However, on Saturday Russia dismissed the idea as fanciful.
Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev said each crew picks the colors about six months before launch because the suits have to be sewn individually. He added that they were chosen because all three graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University and therefore chose the colors of their prestigious alma mater.
In a statement on the Russian space agency’s Telegram channel, Artemyev said:
There is no need to search for hidden signs or symbols in our uniform. A color is simply a color. He is in no way connected with Ukraine. Otherwise, one would have to recognize one’s rights to the yellow sun in the blue sky.
These days, even though we are in space, we are with our president and our people!
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos space agency, tweeted a photo of the university’s blue and gold coat of arms.
Shortly after arriving at the orbital station on Friday, Artemyev had a different response regarding the flight suits, saying there was a lot of yellow gear in stock and “that’s why we had to wear yellow.”
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson played down hostile comments from Rogozin following the invasion, after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to American companies.
“It’s just Dmitry Rogozin,” Nelson told The Associated Press. “It springs from time to time. But in the end, he worked with us.
The Russian invasion resulted in canceled launches and broken contracts. Many fear that Rogozin could jeopardize decades of work, especially with regard to the International Space Station.
In addition to threatening to withdraw from the space station and jettison it over the United States, Europe or elsewhere, Rogozin had covered the flags of other countries on a Soyuz rocket awaiting liftoff with internet satellites.
The launch was canceled after London-based client OneWeb refused Rogozin’s request that the satellites not be used for military purposes and the British government cut off its financial support.
On Thursday, the European Space Agency confirmed that it was indefinitely suspending its ExoMars rover mission with Roscosmos due to the war in Ukraine.
“Despite all of this, in space we can have cooperation with our Russian friends, our colleagues,” Nelson said. “The professional relationship between astronauts and cosmonauts has not lacked rhythm. That’s the cooperation we have going on in the civilian space program.
The United States and Russia are the main operators of the space station, which has been occupied for 21 years.
Nasa said Vande Hei’s plans remain unchanged, despite an early March video allegedly produced by Roscosmos that showed two Russian cosmonauts saying goodbye to him. It then showed a mission control team watching a computer-generated video of the station’s Russian segment breaking loose and floating away.
The video, which includes a Russian song called Farewell, was shared by news agency RIA Novosti. Its caption read: “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.”
In a response, Russian state news agency Tass said: “American astronaut Mark Vande Hei will return to Earth on March 30 aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft, together with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. Roscosmos has never given reason to doubt its reliability as a partner.