Ukraine has confirmed that Russia is 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. A audio clip was posted online, which it said showed an exchange between two soldiers. According to Andrii Yusov, a Ministry of Defense of Ukraine representative, Russia’s use of Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX was taking on a “systemic nature.”
Starlink terminals were sent to Ukraine shortly after Russia began its invasion and have been hailed as an important tool facilitating Kyiv’s battlefield communications. However, Ukraine’s GUR did not specify how many terminals it believed Russia had or how they might have been obtained. SpaceX stated that it does not do business with Russia’s government or military, but did not mention the possible use of Starlink in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
Russian troops may be obscuring their use of Starlink to SpaceX by sending a fake GPS signal, Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told Defense One. The relationship between Musk and Ukraine has cooled since SpaceX initially gave its full support to Kyiv when Russia first invaded and sent “thousands” of Starlink terminals to the country. In 2022, Musk denied Kyiv’s request to activate Starlink near Moscow-annexed Crimea because doing so would have made SpaceX “explicitly complicit in a major act of war.”