Russian sanctions could ground US spy satellites

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WASHINGTON, DC – What’s the connection between Uncle Sam’s eyes in the sky and the Ukraine war on the ground?

That would be President Barack Obama and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and here’s why.

There’s a cease-fire in Ukraine, sort of, because the Russians say they can’t be part of a cease-fire if they don’t have troops fighting there.

But if there is a cease-fire, it might be the result of economic sanctions against Russia pushed by President Obama and European countries.

In fact, president Obama said so when he spoke with NATO allies in Estonia. “Because we've stood together, Russia is paying a heavy price for its actions.”

But America’s spy satellite program may also pay a price. Russia makes the RD-180 rocket engines that launch the military’s Atlas V rockets, which carry the spy eyes in the sky.

But Russia is thinking hard about backing out on their deal to supply the rockets in retaliation for the economic sanctions.

So now, the Air Force is putting out for bids for a replacement propulsion system, although it doesn’t specifically mention the RD-180 rocket.

Some experts say it could take 5 years and a billion dollars to replace the Russian engine.

A costly lesson of why you can’t rely on unreliable sources.

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