Ukraine has confirmed that Russia is utilizing Starlink after intercepting radio exchanges from the 83rd Assault Brigade in the Donetsk region near towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka. A recording of a conversation between two soldiers was posted by Ukraine, and Andrii Yusov, a representative from the Ministry of Defense, announced that Russia’s use of Starlink terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX was becoming “systemic.”
Since Russia began its invasion, Starlink terminals have been sent to Ukraine to help with battlefield communications. Kyiv’s confirmation comes after news reports revealed that Ukrainian troops had noticed Russian forces using the terminals several months ago. However, the number of terminals believed to be in Russian hands and how they were acquired was not specified by Ukraine’s GUR.
Starlink stated that it does not 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 because doing so would have made SpaceX “explicitly complicit in a major act of war.”