Politico reports that plans to have Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin to visit the United States to consult with NASA officials and tour American space facilities is not going over very well with some in Washington. The trip would require the government to lift sanctions on the Russian leader, who is currently banned from visiting the United States.
Yet lawmakers from both parties and former national security officials are crying foul, saying the invitation undermines U.S. sanctions and would give a government-approved platform to an anti-American bigot.
“It absolutely sends the wrong message to lift sanctions, even temporarily, for the purpose of inviting him to speak to students at one of our nation’s premier universities,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leader of the committee’s investigation into 2016 Russian election interference.
“This is appalling,” said Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia in the Obama administration. “It’s utterly inappropriate given who he is and the fact that he is on our sanctions list.”
In an email, [NASA spokeswoman Megan] Powers also defended Bridenstine’s invitation.
“The U.S. / Russian relationship in space dates back to the 1970s,” she wrote. “NASA has historically invited the head of the Russian space agency to visit the United States. Following this precedent, and Administrator Bridenstine’s October visit to Russia to participate in crew launch activities to the International Space Station, NASA invited the Director-General of Roscosmos to visit NASA facilities in the United States and discuss our ongoing space-related cooperation.”