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Military intelligence: Russia reportedly buying Starlink in 'Arab countries'

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 13, 2024 11:36 AM 2 min read
The Starlink logo in an illustrative photo dated Nov. 10, 2023. (Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Russia has allegedly been purchasing Starlink terminals from "Arab countries," Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) said on Feb. 13, citing intercepted communications.

Claims have circulated that Russian troops were reportedly using the Starlink terminals, which are operated by SpaceX and have been extensively deployed by Ukrainian forces for military purposes.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency said on Feb. 13 that it had intercepted radio communications where Russians were discussing the purchase of Starlink terminals in "Arab countries" but did not specify which countries.

Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, denied on Feb. 11 that his company had sold any Starlink terminals to Russia.

"To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia."

In a follow-up statement, Musk said that Starlink would not connect to devices in Russia: "Starlink satellites will not close the link in Russia."

Both military intelligence and media reports said that Russian forces connected Starlink in occupied Ukraine, not on Russian territory.

Russian military uses Starlink inside Ukraine, intelligence confirms
Russia has Starlink terminals and is increasingly using them on the front line in Ukraine, Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed on Feb. 11.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency published a clip from an intercepted phone call, where Russian soldiers allegedly discuss having successfully set up a Starlink terminal.

Military intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov told RBC-Ukraine that Russia's use of Starlink is growing to systemic levels.

Yusov also said on air on Feb. 12 that "no one claims that Starlink is officially being sold" to Russia. Moscow is likely acquiring the terminals through smuggling and third-party countries, he clarified.

The Starlink terminals reportedly cost 200,000 rubles (~$2,200) and come with all the necessary equipment.

SpaceX began providing the Starlink satellite internet system to Ukraine shortly after the Russian full-scale invasion in February 2022.

In June 2023, the Pentagon confirmed that SpaceX had won a contract from the U.S. Defense Department to provide Ukraine with Starlink satellite services.

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