A senior Trump administration official told the United Nations on Tuesday that Russia's unusual actions in space could be evidence that the country is employing a "combat laser system" capable of disabling American satellites.
What are the details?
According to the Daily Mail, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Dr. Yleem Poblete warned that unusual movements of a Russian satellite, called a "space apparatus inspector," could be an indication that the country is weaponizing its space program, including the employment of a "combat laser system" that could take U.S. satellites offline.
"The United States is concerned that what appears as very abnormal behavior by this so-called 'space apparatus inspector,'" Poblete said. "We do not know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify its mission. Moreover, Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear."
"It is also concerning in light of statements from senior Russian military officials that Russia's Space Troops have taken delivery of a 'combat laser system,'" Poblete continued. "Further, Russia claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid-flight to destroy American satellites. To the United States, these developments are yet further proof that Russian military actions do not match their diplomatic rhetoric," the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Poblete went on to say that the U.S. was prepared for whatever Russia has up its sleeve.
"While the United States would prefer that the space domain remain free of conflict, it will prepare to meet and overcome any challenges that arise," Poblete told the U.N. "As Vice President Pence recently noted, 'Our adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain already. And the United States will not shrink from this challenge.' "
This isn't the first time in recent months that Poblete has warned other nations about Russia's plans for celestial weaponry. Speaking at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Aug. 14, she presented several examples of Russian officials declaring their intentions to employ anti-satellite capabilities:
Mr. President, as this body well knows, the United States has raised concerns over many years that the Russian Federation is actively pursuing the development and deployment of anti-satellite weapons. Since 2009, the Russian Ministry of Defense officials have repeatedly and publicly confirmed that anti-satellite weapons development is being conducted in Russia. And as recently as February 2017, a Russian Air Force Squadron Commander stated that Russia is developing new missiles with the express intent of destroying satellites.
Furthermore, we have read statements from the Russian Ministry of Defense that it is working on creating 'a mobile attack anti-satellite system.' The Russian Ministry of Defense recently announced that its Space Troops have received a mobile laser system, which Vladimir Putin announced to the world on March 1 of this year. Russia's leader himself alluded to space weapons being more 'acceptable in the political and military respect.'
CNN reported Aug. 16 that the unusual activity concerning U.S. military analysts was evidence that a "Russian nesting doll" satellite "birthed" two more satellites while in orbit.
In other words, a smaller satellite was deployed from a larger vessel while out in space, and the smaller satellite then deployed yet a third satellite — sparking fears that Russia was testing the smaller satellites for military purposes.