Former NASA astronaut and US Air Force test pilot Terry Virts has had enough of Russia's provocations, especially when it comes to its cooperation with the US on board the International Space Station.
In a scathing opinion piece for The Hill, Virts didn't hold back, arguing that the US "should begin the process of disengaging Russia from the ISS partnership," while also limiting "cooperation on the ISS to the absolute minimum required for the safe operation of the ISS."
"We cannot continue business as usual on the ISS while Russia uses it as a propaganda tool to support killing thousands of innocent Ukrainians and causing global economic devastation," Virts writes. "To keep things in perspective, Putin has essentially brought Europe back to 1941."
While Russia's invasion of Ukraine has seemingly had little to no impact on ISS operations, a recent stunt involving cosmonauts holding the flags of two Ukrainian territories only Russia and Syria recognize as independent has turned the typically apolitical space station into a pressure cooker for international tensions.
In a statement last week, NASA decried Russia for abusing its access to the ISS to spread anti-Ukraine propaganda, declaring that it "strongly rebukes using the International Space Station for political purposes to support [the] war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the station's primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes."
Virts called the shocking stunt a "blatant symbol of the occupation of eastern Ukraine — and an apparent declaration of support for the war" which undermines the value Russia brings to the table on the ISS.
"The ISS is supposed to be a symbol of peace and unity, but Russia has chosen to use it as a propaganda tool for aggression," the former astronaut argued.
Virts also took a stab at Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's space program, for having "become unhinged," tweeting "not-so-veiled threats," and insinuating Russia could "leave American astronauts stranded in space."
As a result, Virts argues, the US should start shutting itself off from Russia in orbit immediately, which for the record would be an extraordinary technical challenge. For one, NASA would need to build "its own new control module within a year, eliminating our dependence on Russian thrusters."
"I truly hope that we will someday return to cooperation in a post-Putin Russia, but for now," Virts writes "NASA and other partner nations must make the tough decision to begin the process of disengagement."
READ MORE: We must disengage Russia from the International Space Station partnership [The Hill]
More on Russia in space: NASA Furious at Russia's Ukraine Stunt on Space Station