Ukraine Alleges Russia Using Musk’s Starlink For Drone Attacks

Ukrainian intelligence officials charged on Sunday that Russian forces are utilizing Elon Musk’s Starlink terminals to direct drone strikes in the war-torn nation. The capability was rushed to Kyiv in 2022 to assist the country after Moscow’s invasion.

Starlink insists it has no business connections with the Kremlin or its military.

But Kyiv’s primary intelligence agency reported that the invaders using the satellite-based service appear to be “systematic.” Spokesman Andriy Yosov noted “cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered.

Ukraine said the terminals are utilized by the Kremlin’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, which is operating in contested towns in the embattled eastern region of Donetsk.

Messages exchanged between Russian soldiers setting up the Starlink terminals have been intercepted. The forces were using Telegram to communicate on the setup procedure.

The intelligence agency said it is not known if the terminals were procured internationally or captured from Ukrainian forces. But Starlink insisted on Thursday that its terminals are not active in Russia and SpaceX never sold or marketed its products in the country.

In a statement, the service declared that if one of its terminals is being used by an “unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed.”

But a Ukrainian journalist, Andriy Tsaplienko, posted on his Telegram channel that Russian forces “have Starlink with licensed accounts. They began to deliver Starlink en masse, via Dubai, accounts are activated, they work in the occupied territories.”

And Russian media reported Starlink internet systems are available through the nation’s online stores. They are supplied, it said, through a Dubai intermediary.

The service, which is operated through SpaceX, is touted by Musk as providing a “major battlefield advantage” for Ukraine.

Last June the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a contract to Starlink for satellite services for Ukraine. The network is privately funded and consists of almost 4,000 satellites in low orbit that supply online connectivity to remote locations.

It has been widely utilized by Kyiv during its nearly two-year war with Moscow. The service is not activated in Russia, but it is available in four annexed regions of Ukraine.