MacLean’s shared a Canadian Press article noting that Canada did not give visa to Russian delegates to the 65th International Astronautical Congress.
Canada’s refusal to allow Russian delegates to attend a prestigious international astronautical symposium has angered Moscow, which said the decision flies in the face of international space co-operation and amounts to politicizing space exploration over the conflict in Ukraine.
A spokesman for the Russian embassy on Tuesday called Ottawa’s decision to deny visas for the delegates — including one of the country’s most renowned astronauts — unfortunate.
“In this regard, we can only express regret that a number of members of the Russian delegation did not get their visas,” Kirill Kalinin, second secretary at the Russian embassy in Ottawa, told The Canadian Press.
[. . .]
Ottawa initially declined to discuss the issue, citing privacy concerns, but on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed some applications were denied, while others were still being reviewed.
“Each will be assessed on its merits by professional, non-partisan public servants in accordance with Canada’s security and immigration laws,” Nancy Caron said in an email.
The CBC goes further, noting that Chinese as well as Russian delegates have prevented from getting visas.
The leaders of Russia’s and China’s space agencies were conspicuous by their absence at the opening plenary session in Toronto, sparking questions from among the thousands of participants.
The questions initially landed in the lap of Berndt Feuerbacher, past president of the International Astronautical Federation, who was moderating the session featuring the heads of space agencies.
“They were foreseen to be here with us, they have been with us in the past, and they will be with us in the future,” Feuerbacher said.
“It is just unfortunate, due to problems especially in the visa area, that we couldn’t have these delegations here. I apologize for this.”
The issue came amid much delegate talk about the importance of international co-operation in the space-exploration field as symbolized by the International Space Station. Russia plays a key role in the space station — its capsule brought home Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield — but has drawn the wrath of countries such as Canada and the U.S. for its aggression against Ukraine.
“How do you want to succeed talking about global space co-operation without involving representatives from Russia and China?” delegates asked Feuerbacher.
“This is not our intention,” he responded.
Walter Natynczyk, head of the Canadian Space Agency, was unable to explain what had gone wrong.
The retired general said he had only been alerted to the visa problem in the past couple of days.
There is a rationale for Russia, at least. But China? I would have thought that cultivating space links with China, or at least keeping connections alive, would have been a priority for the Canadian government.