Ukraine’s intelligence declared that Russia is utilizing Starlink after overhearing radio exchanges from Russia’s 83rd Assault Brigade, which is in the Donetsk region near towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka. A recording of a conversation between two soldiers was posted by Ukraine, and a Ministry of Defense of Ukraine representative, Andrii Yusov, informed local media that Russia’s use of Starlink terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX was becoming “systemic.”
Since Russia started its invasion, Starlink terminals, which connect to satellites in low Earth orbit for internet services, have been sent to Ukraine. They have been seen as greatly helping Kyiv’s battlefield communications. Ukraine’s confirmation comes after news reports revealed that Ukrainian troops had noticed Russia using the terminals several months prior.
The number of terminals Ukraine believes Russia has or how they were obtained was not specified by Ukraine’s GUR. Starlink said it doesn’t do business with Russia’s government or military and is not active in Russia, however, it did not mention the possibility of Starlink being utilized in Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine.
According to Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Russian troops may be concealing their Starlink use from SpaceX by steering a fake GPS signal. Elon Musk initially offered full support to Ukraine when Russia first invaded, with SpaceX sending “thousands” of Starlink terminals to the country, however, relations between Musk and Ukraine have since worsened. He stated in 2022 that he rejected Kyiv’s plea to activate Starlink near Moscow-annexed Crimea, where Ukraine was planning a drone strike against the Russia’s navy, because doing so would have made SpaceX “explicitly complicit in a major act of war.”