Ukraine’s main Intelligence Agency claims that Russia is using the Starlink terminals which is produced by Elon Musk’s Space X for satellite internet to conduct military operations in Kyiv, despite Elon Musk calling the earlier allegation as “Fake News”. Ukraine said that the Starlink satellite communication systems are being sold to Russia using third countries.
The representative of the Main Intelligence Agency of Ukraine, Andriy Yusov also said that efforts are in progress to counter the threat. He said, “cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature”.
Ukraine said terminals were being used by units like Russia’s 83rd air assault brigade, near Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern region of Donetsk.
Starlink terminals were said to be “geofenced” so that they do not function in unauthorised locations. Online discussion suggested that Russian forces may be able to “spoof” the geofence to make a terminal in a blockade area appear as if it is a permitted area. It is also suggested that the Russian force may be able to get access by using the ill-gotten terminals in areas of Ukraine that were cleared for Starlink to help the Ukrainians, but then came under the Russian occupation.
When the news about Russia using Starlink came out for the first time, Musk took to his X account and said that “no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia”. He then added that, “a number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false”.
A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia.
This is categorically false.
To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2024
Musk however did not address whether Russian soldiers might be using Starlink terminals regardless. Starlink also did not say anything about the possible use of occupied areas in Ukraine by the Russian force.
It said, “If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorised party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed”.
SpaceX 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. If…
— Starlink (@Starlink) February 8, 2024
Russia hit back at the allegations made by Ukraine by saying that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet was not authorised for the use in Russia and was not formally supplied there. Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said told reporters that Starlink “is not a certified system with us; accordingly, it cannot be officially supplied here and is not officially supplied. Accordingly, it cannot be used officially in any way”. He then added it is perhaps the best to intrude into the discussion between the Kyiv regime and Elon Musk.
Starlink has been helping the Ukrainian force since the first days of the war, mainly to launch attack against the Russian troops. If Russia is using the same satellite, that could put Musk in spotlight.
Elon Musk and Ukraine has been spotted against each other lately. And the fact that both Russia and musk appear to be saying thing rises the suspicion against the Starlink involvement in Russia’s attack against Ukraine.
Ukraine’s allegations against Musk follow Walter Isaacson’s biography of the X owner. In the biography, Musk is said to have revealed details of the Starlink’s use in the conflict. According to the book, Elon musk allegedly gave his engineers covert orders to shut down his company’s Starlink satellite communications network close to the Crimean coast to face the Ukrainian stealth attack against the Russian fleet in October 2022.
In the same year, Ukraine also complained about the satellite network not working on the frontline, which caused huge disruptions in their operation. Musk later clarified that the switching off the of the network was to prevent Russia from using it. He was also accused of directly engaging with Russian President and negotiating with him. Musk categorically denied the accusation.
With inputs from Eurasian Times.