Dependence on Russian access to space has always been a bit of a problem in the United States, at least from a geopolitical perspective. You might credit the antagonism between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Space Race for some of this, but I suggest that were we dependent on any other country to gain entry to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA would find it frustrating. And it wouldn’t be alone.
While NASA Administrator Bolden has been pushing Congress to fund NASA at a level to allow for independent access to the ISS, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. To remove any doubt that activities in space are often driven by foreign policy, the United States has suspended space cooperation with Russia due to its activities in the Ukraine (H/T The Wire and The Verge). The only exceptions are activities involving the ISS or multilateral activities outside of Russia that involve Russian officials. That’s not quite the empty gesture it seems, as NASA categorized this action as affecting the majority of its activities with Russia. Will this faceoff prompt a change in NASA’s funding? Doubtful. But I would expect a lot more speechifying on that front.
Should things get (more?) heated between Russia and the United States, we could have a real-world imitating art moment. The 1984 film 2010, based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke (both of which were sequels to 2001: A Space Odyssey) had a similar conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union while both countries had space personnel in close quarters. At one point war is threatened, requiring the two nations to retreat to their respective spacecraft. There is no discernible chance that the resolution of the conflict in the film will happen in this case. But if it does, we’ll all notice pretty quickly.