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Russian military uses Starlink inside Ukraine, intelligence confirms

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 11, 2024 12:43 PM 2 min read
A Ukrainian soldier uses a Starlink terminal during military exercises in Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine, in June 2023 (Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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

The statement came after multiple media reported that Russian troops have access to Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine.

Along with the confirmation, the military intelligence published a clip from an intercepted phone call, where Russian soldiers allegedly discuss having successfully set up a Starlink terminal. The soldiers are from Russia's 83rd Assault Brigade based in Donetsk Oblast, near Klishchiivka and Andriivka, according to the agency.

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

While the reports were vague about the consequences of Russia using this technology, Ukrainian service members told Defense One that this will make their lives more difficult.

The reports suggest that Russia started acquiring Starlink terminals months ago. Ukrainian soldiers told journalists or wrote on Twitter that these terminals are being delivered to Russia through intermediaries like Dubai.

Starlink is operated by Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX and has been extensively used for military applications by Ukrainian forces.

Musk has spoken out in favor of a peace deal with Russia and was reported to be growing more amenable to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the right-wing commentators his government sponsors.  

In a Feb. 8 post on X, formerly Twitter, SpaceX officials said the company “does not do business of any kind with the Russian Government or its military. Starlink is not active in Russia, meaning service will not work in that country. SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia.”

Multiple Russian companies advertise Starlink terminals for sale. SpaceX said these sales are scams.

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 Defense Department to provide Ukraine with Starlink satellite services.

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