Ukrainian intelligence has confirmed that Russian forces are using Starlink after intercepting the radio communications of Russia’s 83rd Assault Brigade, which is operating near the towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the Donetsk region. The audio clip, posted by Ukraine’s GUR, allegedly shows an exchange between two soldiers discussing their use of Starlink terminals to communicate with Moscow.
According to local media reports, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense representative Andrii Yusov has stated that Russia’s use of Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX is taking on a “systemic nature.” This confirmation comes after several months of reports suggesting that Ukrainian troops had detected Russia’s use of the terminals in different parts of Ukraine.
Starlink is a satellite-based internet service provided by SpaceX, which allows users to access high-speed internet from anywhere in the world. The company sent several thousands of Starlink terminals to Ukraine shortly after Russia began its invasion. They were hailed as an important tool facilitating Kyiv’s battlefield communications. However, SpaceX has denied doing any business with Russia’s government or military and stated that it does not have any active operations in Russia. It also said that it would deactivate any Starlink terminal if it was found to be being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party.
However, experts believe that Russian troops may be obscuring their use of Starlink by sending fake GPS signals, as reported by senior fellow Bryan Clark at the Hudson Institute. Despite initial support for Ukraine when Russia first invaded, SpaceX has since cooled its relationship with the country due to concerns about its potential involvement in major acts of war.