The use of Starlink by Russian forces in Ukraine has been confirmed by Ukrainian intelligence, which intercepted radio communications of the 83rd Assault Brigade operating near the towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the Donetsk region. According to a report from local media, a recording was posted on social media that purportedly showed an exchange between two soldiers discussing their use of Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Andrii Yusov, a representative from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, stated that Russia’s use of Starlink terminals was taking on a “systemic nature,” with concerns raised over how many terminals they may have obtained and how they were acquired. However, Starlink has denied any business with Russia’s government or military and claimed that they do not operate in Russia.
Starlink terminals connect to SpaceX’s low Earth orbit satellites to provide internet services, and have been hailed as an important tool facilitating Kyiv’s battlefield communications. But there are concerns over whether Russian troops may be obscuring their use of Starlink by sending fake GPS signals, according to Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
The relationship between Musk and Ukraine has been rocky since SpaceX sent “thousands” of Starlink terminals to the country following Russia’s invasion in 2022. However, there have been reports that Musk initially supported Ukraine during its conflict with Russia and even denied Kyiv’s request to activate Starlink near Moscow-annexed Crimea due to concerns over its potential impact on international law.