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Photo: NASA

Russia and China today announced that the two nations plan to cooperate to create a scientific research station on the Moon.

Why it matters: Countries are turning their attention to landing people on the Moon in the coming years, and this partnership between China and Russia — a long-time U.S. partner in space — shows just how much the geopolitical landscape in space is changing.

Details: Russia and China today signed a memorandum of understanding stating the two countries will work together to build the International Scientific Lunar Station.

  • The station "is a complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the Moon, designed to carry out multidisciplinary and multipurpose research work," Russia's statement says.
  • The base will focus on exploration and "use of the Moon," fundamental research, and technology development, and will have uncrewed capabilities as well as open up the "prospect of a human presence on the Moon," the statement says.
  • The two nations haven't yet released details about what each will be responsible for when it comes to building and operating the station.

The intrigue: This move appears to signal that Russia plans to move away from cooperation with the U.S. and other nations involved in the International Space Station once that program ends by the end of the decade.

  • Russia has not signed the Artemis Accords, which is led by the U.S. and aims to govern international exploration of the Moon. Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's space agency, called NASA’s Artemis program to land astronauts back on the Moon too “U.S. centric.”
  • However, Russia and China's plans likely won't affect the Artemis program.
  • “The space partnership with Russia in the ISS was driven more by national security and foreign policy reasons than a need to have Russian expertise," the Secure World Foundation's Brian Weeden told SpaceNews in February. "It’s useful, but not critical."

Go deeper: The International Space Station's end will mix up space geopolitics

Go deeper

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
60 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.

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Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.