Russian forces in occupied Ukraine are using Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX for satellite internet in what is beginning to look like a “systemic” problem, Kyiv’s main military intelligence agency has claimed.
Starlink terminals were rushed in to help Ukraine after Russia’s February 2022 invasion and have been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications. Starlink says it does not do business of any kind with Russia’s government or military.
“Cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature,” said Ukrainian defence intelligence (GUR) spokesperson Andriy Yusov.
The GUR said terminals were being used by units like Russia’s 83rd air assault brigade, which is fighting near Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern region of Donetsk.
Starlink terminals are supposed to be “geofenced” so they do not function in unauthorised locations. There has been discussion online that, for example, Russian forces may be able to “spoof” the geofence to make a terminal in a blocked area appear as if it is in a permitted area. It has also been suggested that Russian soldiers might use ill-gotten terminals in areas of Ukraine that were cleared for Starlink to help the Ukrainians, but have since come under Russian attack or occupation.