Putin facing humiliating space race blow as Kazakhstan seizes key site in debt row

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Baikonur spaceport is a former Soviet space centre (Image: Getty)

Kazakhstan has seized control of Russian assets at the Baikonur spaceport, including the property of Vladimir Putin's successor to the Soviet space programme, Roscosmos. The central Asian country's bailiff agency has taken over the Center for the Operation of Terrestrial Space Infrastructure in a bid to recover a debt owed by the company of two billion rubles.

The company's CEO is reportedly also barred from leaving the country, reports akipress.com

Astana International Financial Center's court issued a writ of execution back in November 2022.

The move is said to be the result of a row involving the leader of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, regarding the delay in the launch pad project.

This dispute is said to have been sparked b a delay in the construction of a new launch pad - a project that is being handled by Deputy Minister of Communications of Kazakhstan Bagdat Musin, who is responsible for the space programme.

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aikonur was originally constructed during the Soviet era (Image: Getty)

Kazakhstan has taken control of Russian assets on the Baikonur spaceport

Kazakhstan has taken control of Russian assets on the Baikonur spaceport (Image: Getty)

In response, Musin reportedly called Borisov's criticism a "diplomatic miscalculation".

Baikonur spaceport is a former Soviet and current Russian space center located in south-central Kazakhstan.

It is the first and the largest space centre in the world, with a large complex of rocket launch pads and supporting infrastructure.

Baikonur was originally constructed during the Soviet era, and it has been actively developing and changing since 1957. The spaceport is leased to Russia for the next 30 years

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On another diplomatic front, a Russian delegation at talks with senior U.N. officials has said that Moscow is ready to accept an extension to a grain export deal that has helped bring down global food prices amid the war with Ukraine.

The United Nations said it "notes" the Russian announcement and reaffirmed its support for the agreement struck in July as “part of the global response to the most severe cost-of-living crisis in a generation.”

Turkey and the UN brokered the deal between the warring countries that allows Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to ship food and fertilizer from three of its Black Sea ports.

The 120-day agreement was renewed last November. That extension expires on Saturday, and another 120-day extension was on the table.

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Vladimir Putin: Profile of Russia's leader (Image: Express)

Ukraine charged that the Russian proposal to extend it only for 60 days goes against the deal, although the language of the agreement allows the parties to roll it over or "modify" it — as Russia did Monday.

The noncommittal UN response betrayed the world body’s inability to force hands. Russia can largely do what it wants to abide by or reject the deal, leaving the issue dangling for countries in the developing world, which benefit most.

A UN statement said: "The U.N. Secretary-General has confirmed that the U.N. will do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensure its continuity."

It stressed that the deal had allowed the export of 24 million tons of grain and more than 1,600 trips by vessels through the Black Sea — with more than half the exports destined for developing countries.

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