MOSCOW — The Russian space agency has dismissed claims that three Russian cosmonauts boarded the International Space Station in Ukrainian colours, in a possible statement against the war.
The first arrivals since the beginning of the Russian war wore bright yellow suits with blue trimmings. They were warmly welcomed on board, hugging and greeting their fellow Americans, Russians and Germans.
“Sometimes yellow is just yellow,” the space agency Roscosmos said. The ISS is a joint project between Russia, America, Canada, Japan and several European countries.
It is led by a US-Russian partnership that has continued for two decades despite fluctuating tensions between the two world powers.
Russian cosmonauts Denis Matveyev, Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Korsakov docked with the ISS after a three-hour flight, which took off from a Russian-owned facility in Kazakhstan.
“Congratulations on the successful docking,” said a voice from Russian Mission Control. A few hours later, two sets of hatches were opened and the three smiling men floated into the space station one by one in their yellow jumpsuits.
The standard Russian uniform is plain blue, and at least one of the men was seen wearing it before takeoff. The moment was broadcast live by Roscosmos and NASA, the US space agency.
Image taken from a live stream showing the cosmonauts in yellow suits “It’s our turn to choose a color,” Artemyev said when asked about the suits during a live press conference.
“We had accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it,” he joked. “That’s why we had to wear yellow.” Since the invasion of Ukraine, people around the world have used the colors of its national flag to show their solidarity and support.
But the Roscosmos press service dismissed the reports as a “funny invention” by bloggers and foreign media.
“The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colors of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, from which the three cosmonauts graduated… To see the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is crazy .”
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin is a strong supporter of the invasion and he has suggested that claims that cosmonauts wear Ukrainian colors come from Ukrainian nationalists.
Roscosmos later published another photo of Oleg Artemyev wearing an obviously Russian costume. Artemyev was then seen posing in a white suit in the colors of the Russian flag
The three Russians will begin a scientific mission on the ISS which should last just over six months. They will replace three current crew members who are due to return to Earth on March 30. – BBC