Ukrainian military intelligence has alleged that Russian forces in occupied Ukrainian territories are utilizing Starlink terminals manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX for satellite internet connectivity, marking what appears to be a “systemic” deployment, as stated by Kyiv’s main military intelligence agency on Sunday.
The terminals, which were swiftly deployed to aid Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, have played a crucial role in facilitating Kyiv’s communication on the battlefield. However, Starlink has stated that it does not engage in any business dealings with Russia’s government or military.
According to spokesperson Andriy Yusov of the Ukrainian defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR), instances of Russian occupiers utilizing these devices have been documented, with indications of it becoming a recurring practice.
The agency specified that these terminals were being utilized by units such as Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, actively engaged in combat near the towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern region of Donetsk.
This statement marks Ukraine’s first official acknowledgment of Russia’s alleged usage of Starlink. Despite repeated attempts, Russia’s defence ministry has not responded to requests for comment by Reuters.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian government sources revealed to Reuters that Russian deployment of Starlink had been detected in occupied Ukrainian territories, with efforts underway to ascertain the extent of its usage.
GUR disclosed that they intercepted communications between two soldiers discussing the setup of these terminals, providing an audio clip of the exchange on the Telegram messenger app as evidence.
The agency did not speculate on how Russian forces acquired these terminals, whether through procurement from foreign sources or capture from Ukrainian forces.
Starlink, on February 8, reiterated that its terminals were not operational in Russia and that SpaceX had never distributed or marketed the service within Russia or shipped equipment to Russian locations. However, Starlink did not address their potential use in occupied regions of Ukraine in a statement shared on X.
The company stated, “If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed.”
Sources By Agencies