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Russia launches Iranian satellite amid Ukraine war concerns

Illustrative: In this handout photo taken from video released by Roscosmos on August 9, 2022, a Russian Soyuz rocket lifts off to carry Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome near Baikonur, Kazakhstan. (Roscosmos via AP)
Illustrative: In this handout photo taken from video released by Roscosmos on August 9, 2022, a Russian Soyuz rocket lifts off to carry Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome near Baikonur, Kazakhstan. (Roscosmos via AP)

An Iranian satellite launched by Russia has blasted off from Kazakhstan, reaching orbit amid controversy that Moscow might be using it to boost its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.

As Russia’s international isolation grows following Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin is seeking to pivot towards the Middle East, Asia and Africa and find new clients for its embattled space program.

Speaking at the Moscow-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe, Russian space chief Yury Borisov hails “an important milestone in Russian-Iranian bilateral cooperation, opening the way to the implementation of new and even larger projects.”

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour, who is also attending the launch of the Khayyam satellite, calls the event “historic” and “a turning point for the start of a new interaction in the field of space between our two countries.”

Nasser Kanani, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, says on Twitter that “the brilliant path of scientific and technological progress of the Islamic republic of Iran continues despite sanctions and the enemies’ maximum pressure.”

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