(Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin ordered a shake-up of Russia’s space agency on Friday, appointing Yuri Borisov, a former deputy prime minister and deputy defence minister, to replace Dmitry Rogozin as its head.
The change was announced shortly before Roscosmos said it had signed a landmark deal with NASA regarding integrated flights and crews on the International Space Station (ISS) – a rare instance of cooperation between Russia and the United States at a time of acute tension over the war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin did not comment on the reasons for the change.
Rogozin had taken a confrontational stance since Roscosmos was hit with sanctions for its role in Russia’s defence industry after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.
He had threatened to pull out of the ISS, saying cooperation with the West was “impossible,” and pointedly bragged about Russia’s nuclear potential.
In a video posted on its Telegram channel, Roscosmos hailed the progress made at the space agency under Rogozin, who was appointed in 2018.
Those achievements included “a record 86 successful launches in a row, construction of the Russian segment of the ISS…and flight tests for a powerful inter-continental ballistic missile,” Roscosmos said.
Rogozin has touted the capability of the new Sarmat missile to launch a nuclear strike on the United States, and said it would be operational by the autumn following successful tests earlier this year.
Rogozin appeared to revel in trolling the West, including by waging Twitter spats with billionaire Elon Musk, speaking publicly about Russia’s nuclear missile capability and publishing the coordinates and satellite images of Western defence sites with the implication they could be targeted.
There was no official comment on Rogozin’s next appointment, but Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying he would get a new post.
Borisov, 65, who takes over the helm, has a military background, having been involved with the defence industry since the late 1990s. As deputy premier, he oversaw military and space affairs including the production of weapons and equipment.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Mark Heinrich)