Russian troops are using the Starlink communications system developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, reports Defense One with reference to Ukrainian sources. According to one of the publication’s interlocutors, the Russian Armed Forces first began using the Starlink system for communications several months ago.
Defense One is an online magazine owned by the American publishing house Atlamtic Media. The publication publishes news, analysis, ideas and trends that shape the future of American defense and international security, according to website Defense One.
Another Defense One source said the Russian military’s use of Starlink is growing. According to the first interlocutor, the Russian Armed Forces use the system along the entire front. According to him, when the Russians have hundreds of Starlink terminals, Ukrainian troops will have a “hard time living.” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Jurgensen told the publication that the United States is aware of reports of the use of Starlink by Russian troops, but referred questions about this to “Ukrainian partners.”
February 5 edition ComNews reported that over 10 Russian online stores began selling Starlink equipment on a wholesale scale. It is stated that systems with an activated account have gone on sale. According to the publication, Starlink does not operate in Russia, but its signal is available in Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, as well as Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
Back in May 2023 in the Miele online store in Russia become Starlink terminals are available for purchase. However, one of the terminal buyers told ComNews that in mid-2023, an activated account was not included with the kit, so it was a “chest of hardware.” A satellite communications market participant familiar with the situation told the publication that Starlink supplies to the Russian Federation are now “coming in literally tons” from the UAE. According to him, before import, terminals are massively registered under foreign companies (Cyprus is often included), after which an account is activated under any name, often a fictitious one.
On February 6, volunteers helping the Russian military Ekaterina and Valentina Kornienko published in Telegram video showing Chinese DJI drones and boxes with Starlink inscription. On February 8, the Ukrainian publication Strana.ua reported, with reference to the accounts of the Ukrainian armed forces on the social network X, that the Russian army is using Starlink on the territory of Ukraine. In particular, a user with the nickname Serg claims that equipment comes to Russia en masse from Dubai and is used in territories occupied by the Russian army, the publication reports. This information was confirmed in X by Ukrainian volunteer Sergei Sternenko.
On February 8, the official Starlink social media account X stated that SpaceX does not do any business with the Russian government or military. The message emphasizes that Starlink does not operate in Russia, and is also not sold or operated in Dubai.
“Starlink has not permitted any third party resellers, resellers or distributors of any kind to sell Starlink in Dubai. If SpaceX receives information that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unregistered party, we will investigate the allegation and take action to deactivate the terminal if confirmed,” the company said in a statement.
Following the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine in 2022, SpaceX announced that it had provided Ukraine with thousands of Starlink terminals in the form of donations, as well as supplies paid for by the US military or Ukrainian volunteers. Starlink devices allow troops to establish high-bandwidth Internet communications. The Ukrainian Armed Forces use the system for various operational purposes, in particular to coordinate artillery strikes and control drones.
Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kirill Budanov said in September 2023 that the Ukrainian army is using terminals to connect to Starlink along the entire front line. At the same time, according to him, “for a certain time” this network did not work in the Crimea region. Later Elon Musk statedthat his refusal to turn on Starlink satellite communications in Crimea at the request of Ukraine is related to sanctions imposed by the United States. According to him, permission to connect requires approval from the American government.
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