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Media: Investigation shows Russian forces may use satellite systems made in Ukraine

by Abbey Fenbert May 9, 2024 12:57 AM 2 min read
Stock image of military satellite systems. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Maksim Safaniuk/Getty Images)
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Gilat SkyEdge satellite systems manufactured in Ukraine are being imported to Russia in large quantities and likely being used by the Russian military in the war against Ukraine, investigative journalists from the outlet Slidstvo.Info reported May 8.

About 22,000 Gilat SkyEdge internet communications systems, valued at $5 million, were imported to Russia in 2023, according to customs data reviewed by investigators. The systems were manufactured at a facility in Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

The Uzhhorod plant is run by a U.S. outsourcing company, Jabil Circuit, for the Israeli corporation Gilat Satellite Networks.

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Gilat did not shut down its operations in Russia and continues to import equipment via its subsidiary, Gilate Satellite Networks (Eurasia) LLC, according to investigators.

Gilat Satellite Networks has partnered with Russian firms since the early 2000s to build satellite networks for public and private sector use, including the development of military communications technology, investigators said.

Gilat has reportedly worked with subsidiaries of industry giants Rostelecom and Gazprom, and has also provided equipment to the Russian Interior Ministry.

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The SkyEdge systems imported to Russia are sold throughout the country, with advertisements and media reports indicating that many are transferred to the Russian military for use on the front lines in Ukraine, Slidstvo.Info reported.

Roman Steblivskyi, head of the sanctions department of the monitoring and advocacy project Trap Agressor, told Slidstvo.Info that there are difficulties involved on imposing sanctions on a company such as Gilat.

"The U.S. government allows companies from this sector to operate in Russia because it is about civilian access to satellite communications under the pretext of protecting freedom of speech and freedom of information," Steblivskyi said.

"In order to impose sanctions on a business like Gilat, we need very clear evidence of not just the use of their products by the military, but their use in the war against Ukraine, on the battlefield."

WSJ uncovers how black market supplies Russian troops with Starlink
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