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Thursday 10 June 2021

Kazakh Senate Approves Renewal of Baikonur Lease by Russia


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NUR-SULTAB / ex ASTANA (Satrapia) — The Senate of the Kazakh parliament adopted a law On ratification of the protocol on amendments to the Baikonur lease agreement between the government of Kazakhstan and the government of the Russian Federation of December 10, 1994.

The Senate Committee on International Relations, Defense and Security said in a statement today:

A draft law on the ratification of the protocol to amend Article 4 of the Baikonur complex lease agreement will allow to realize the goal of extending the lease and operation of the Baikonur complex until 2050.

Russia’s withdrawal from Baikonur
By 2009 the Russian military had left the Baikonur complex, and the cosmodrome was fully transferred to Roskosmos (this process was staggered since 1997). In 2010 there was only one small military unit (Independent Testing Department of Space Forces of Russia, the former spaceport headquarters) assisting in launching defence satellites, which was disbanded at the end of December 2011.

Russia considers it promising to move manned launches to Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region (after 2018). Thus, in 2020-2040 automatic spacecraft will be launched from Baikonur (on Soyuz-2 and Zenit launch vehicles). By 2030, Russia will launch 90% of its spacecraft from its own cosmodromes — Plesetsk and Vostochny — and the share of Baikonur will decrease from 75% to 10%.

Kazakhstan is currently studying the issues of independent operation of Baikonur after the final transfer of launches to the Amur region and termination of the lease of Baikonur by the Russian Federation (for the period after 2050). According to one unconfirmed version, after 2050 the cosmodrome will be reconstructed into an international spaceflight centre together with the European and Israeli space agencies.

In October 2010 the president of Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary JSC (a subsidiary of Kazkosmos) said that Kazakhstan considers it possible for Kazakhstan to start operating Baikonur independently as early as 2014. This statement was caused by the fact that Russia fails to fulfill its obligations to modernize the cosmodrome, and therefore when the cosmodrome is transferred to Kazakhstan, it will be in a deplorable condition.

On December 10, 2012, the head of Kazkosmos, Talgat Musabayev, announced that the 1994 lease agreement on the cosmodrome became outdated, and that the lease of the whole cosmodrome and Baikonur may be cancelled and a transition to smaller leases was possible[30]. According to experts from Russia, such a development would lead to a mass departure of Russian specialists from the Baikonur complex and cause major personnel problems; for Russia, the loss of the Baikonur lease would only make sense after 2020, when the new Vostochny cosmodrome will be fully commissioned.

In order to improve the contractual and legal framework to ensure effective cooperation in the operation of Baikonur, to create the necessary conditions for the personnel of the complex living in Baikonur, on June 15, 2012, the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to re-establish the Russian-Kazakh inter-governmental commission on the Baikonur complex.

On October 15, 2015, in Astana, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an intergovernmental agreement on the procedure for cooperation in launching missiles from the Dombarovsky positioning area, using a land plot on the territory of Kazakhstan as a drop zone for their separating parts.

In 2017, Russia returned to Kazakhstan almost 12,000 hectares of leased land of the Baikonur complex near the villages of Akai and Toretam.

In May 2018, there were reports in the Russian press about the possible withdrawal of the Russian military from the cosmodrome by the end of the year due to budget cuts. Kazakhstan enthusiastically welcomed the news of the replacement of the remaining 100 Russian officers with civilian specialists and the new capabilities of the civilian cosmodrome.

In July 2020, during a ceremony held in Baikonur, the Russian and Kazakh sides approved the creation of the Baiterek space rocket complex, a project to build a rocket complex based on the ground space infrastructure for the Ukrainian medium-range Zenit-M rocket, designed to launch the Soyuz-5 launcher with unmanned spacecraft.

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