US Places Sanctions on Spacety

On Friday, the US Treasury Department placed sanctions on Spacety, a Chinese smallsat developer and SAR provider, due its ties to Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group.

Backing up: The Wagner Group is Russia’s private military firm and is credited with major crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine, the Central African Republic, and Mali. The group commands more than 50,000 personnel currently deployed in Ukraine, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said recently.

Friday’s announcement singled out Wagner Group as a “significant transnational criminal organization.” It placed new sanctions on 16 organizations affiliated with Wagner, including Spacety.

“As sanctions and export controls on Russia from our international coalition continue to bite, the Kremlin is desperately searching for arms and support—including through the brutal Wagner Group—to continue its unjust war against Ukraine,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement.

The connection: Spacety, aka the Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute, has allegedly been supplying Wagner Group with SAR imagery of Ukraine. The images were purchased by Russian firm Terra Tech, which then used them to enable Wagner’s military operations in Ukraine.

What now? The US Treasury Department placed sanctions on the company’s Beijing and Luxembourg offices, cutting off its access to US property and interests. Spacety had previously said that it was willing to work with companies around the world, and had floated the idea of launching on Indian rockets.