Defence minister says Russias Luch-Olymp craft got so close to French military satellite last year
The French defence minister has accused Russia of attempting to intercept Frances satellite communications, calling it an act of espionage.
Florence Parly said Russia tried to intercept transmissions and spy on a satellite providing secure communications for the French military last year.
In a speech outlining Frances space policy and security issues, Parly said that the Athena-Fidus satellite, operated jointly by France and Italy, was approached a bit too closely by Russias Luch-Olymp craft, known for its advanced listening capacity.
It got so close that we might have imagined it was trying to intercept our communications, she added. Trying to listen to your neighbours is not only unfriendly, its an act of espionage.
Parly said officials took the appropriate measures and continued to monitor the satellite after it left, and observed it manoeuvring near other targets as well, she said.
Last month, Washington accused Moscow of developing anti-satellite weapons and cited very abnormal behaviour of a space object deployed by Russia last October.
We are well aware that other major players in space are deploying intriguing objects into orbit, experimenting with potential offensive capabilities, conducting maneouvres which leave no doubt as to their aggressive intent, Parly said.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to set out plans next year for a space defence strategy, and an advisory committee is expected to make proposals by November.
Parly said: Were at risk; our communications, our military manoeuvres and our daily operations are at risk if we dont react.
Macron, who met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Marseille to discuss European elections and migration on Friday, did not immediately comment on the claims of attempted espionage.