© Win McNamee/AFP/Getty ImagesPentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder • Pentagon briefing April 15, 2024 • Arlington, Virginia.
Russia has placed a satellite in orbit that is likely capable of attacking US spacecraft, Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder has claimed.

The satellite was launched by Moscow on May 16, Ryder told journalists during a briefing on Tuesday.

According to assessments by the Pentagon, the craft in question is "likely a counter-space weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit," he said. Its characteristics resemble those of "counter-space payloads" deployed by Russia from 2019 and 2022, the spokesman stated.

Adding that the Pentagon will be monitoring the spacecraft, Ryder said:
"Russia deployed this new counter-space weapon into the same orbit as a US government satellite. The US has a responsibility to be ready to protect and defend [...] the space domain and ensure continuous and uninterrupted support to the Joint and Combined Force.

"Washington will continue to balance the need to protect our interests in space with our desire to preserve a stable and sustainable space environment."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov rejected the Pentagon's claims as misinformation.
"I don't think we should be responding to every fake coming from Washington. The Russian space program is developing 'smoothly' and includes launches of spacecraft for various purposes, including those that solve the issues of strengthening our defense capabilities.

"However, Moscow consistently opposes the deployment of strike weapons in low-Earth orbit. The Americans may say whatever they want, but Russia's policy [on the issue] will not change. If the US really wanted to achieve security in space, the US would have reconsidered its destructive approach and accepted Russia's proposal to develop a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space."
On Monday, the UN Security Council rejected a Russian draft resolution on preventing an arms race and ensuring security in outer space. The US was among the seven nations that voted against the proposal.

Moscow confirmed that a Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle blasted off on May 17 from Plesetsk cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk Region "in the interests of the Russian Defense Ministry." No further details were released about the satellite carried by the rocket.