US and Russian officials started space security talks on Monday in Vienna, after Washington and London accused Moscow of having launched an anti-satellite weapon last week.

The one-day dialogue, which had been planned for months, will be followed by three days of nuclear arms control talks between the two states in the Austrian capital.

Christopher Ford, the US assistant secretary for international security, charged on Friday that “Moscow and Beijing have already turned space into a warfighting domain.”

The United States is proposing rules for responsible behaviour in space, which would be modelled on existing rules of war that are based on the principles of proportionality and humanity, Ford told a press briefing.

Russia and China have been backing a rival effort to ban weapons in outer space in an international treaty.

Ford said Washington is opposed to such a proposal because it would outlaw specific weapons systems that are difficult to define, rather than defining what types of actions in space are acceptable.

According to the US Space Command, Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon in mid-July, similar to a test the country conducted in 2017.

Moscow has rejected the accusation. The test merely involved a small “inspector satellite” that used specialized equipment to inspect a Russian space vehicle at close distance, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“Russia has always been and remains a country that is committed to the aim of fully demilitarizing outer space and non-deployment of any kinds of arms in outer space,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

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