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Thursday, February 29 2024
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Russian Forces Utilize Musk’s Starlink in Ukraine, Says Officials

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Kyiv: According to Kyiv’s chief military intelligence agency, Russian forces in occupied Ukraine are using satellite internet through Starlink terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in what appears to be a “systemic” application.
The terminals, which were sent in quickly to aid Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, have proven essential to Kyiv’s communications on the battlefield. According to Starlink, it has no business dealings with the Russian military or government.

“Cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature,” the Ukrainian defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) quoted spokesman Andriy Yusov as saying.

In a statement, the agency said the terminals were being used by units like Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, which is fighting near the embattled towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern region of Donetsk.

The remarks were Ukraine’s first official statement about Russia’s alleged use of Starlink.

Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Two Ukrainian government sources told Reuters earlier this week that Russian use of Starlink had been detected in occupied Ukrainian territory. One said they were trying to obtain data on the scale of such use.

The GUR agency claimed to have recorded a conversation between two soldiers about configuring the terminals. As proof, it uploaded what it claimed to be an audio recording of the conversation on the Telegram messenger.

GUR did not specify how it believed Russian forces had obtained the terminals, such as whether they had been taken from Ukrainian forces or acquired from overseas.

On February 8, Starlink stated that none of its terminals were operational in Russia and that neither SpaceX nor its affiliates had ever advertised or sold the service there or transported equipment there.

In a statement posted on X, Starlink did not say anything about their possible use in occupied areas of Ukraine.

“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,” it said.

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