Russia launched an Iranian satellite into space on Tuesday, just weeks after Moscow announced plans to abandon the International Space Station in the next two years.
The launch, which lifted off from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, placed the Khayyam satellite into orbit.
Iran claims that the satellite, named after a 12th-century Persian scientist, will be used to improve agricultural productivity, but fears have been raised that Russia will use it to surveil Ukraine and Tehran could use it to monitor Israel.
Two Western security officials told the Washington Post last week that Moscow has informed Iran it will use the high-resolution camera on the satellite to surveil military targets in Ukraine for “several months.”
The satellite will eventually give Iran “unprecedented capabilities” to keep watch over sensitive facilities in Israel and other parts of the Middle East, the official told the newspaper.
The launch also comes as cooperation in space between Russia and the West breaks down amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yuri Borisov, the recently appointed head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, said last month that Russia will leave the International Space Station in the next two eyars.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said in late July, noting that Russia will fulfill its partner commitments before leaving.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.