Russia warned Tuesday that American astronauts on the International Space Station could be hurt by new US-led sanctions over the escalating crisis in Ukraine, where pro-Moscow militants seized more public buildings in the east.
Washington was resorting to "Iron Curtain" policies from its Cold War-era playbook with the new Western sanctions, which were driving the Ukraine crisis towards "a dead end", Moscow raged.
Moscow reacted with fury to the inclusion in the sanctions of high-tech exports to Russia and threatened reprisals.
"If their aim is to deliver a blow to Russia's rocket-building sector, then by default, they would be exposing their astronauts on the ISS," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.
"Sanctions are always a boomerang which come back and painfully hit those who launched them," added Rogozin on a visit to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.
The International Space Station is operated jointly by Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada. Astronauts and cosmonauts depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to ferry them between it and Earth, ever since NASA scrapped its space shuttles in 2011.
As fears continued of an imminent Russian invasion, NATO Tuesday said there was no sign tens of thousands of troops on the border were withdrawing despite the Russian defense ministry claiming they had pulled back to barracks.