In the latest development, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk categorically denied the allegations by Ukraine that his company's Starlink satellite internet service is being used by Russia in the ongoing conflict. This comes after a claim by the Ukrainian military intelligence that Russians are using Starlink technology to enhance their battlefield communications.
Information provided by the source was also confirmed by Ukrainian intelligence, which released an audio recording of two soldiers from the 83rd Assault Brigade in the Donetsk region saying that they had already used Starlink.
However, in the comments from the Russian and Starlink, there is no specifying of how many terminals are at possession of Russia and in what manner they were acquired. Andriy Yusov, the representative of the Ukrainian Military Intelligence, states that Russians are starting to use Starlink in a more systematic way.
Musk Refutes Starlink Claims
Musk later dismissed the allegations through a social media post, clarifying that SpaceX had neither directly nor indirectly sold any Starlink terminals to Russia. He said, "To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold, to our knowledge, either directly or indirectly, to Russia." Musk went on to clarify further that Starlink will not reach the devices located in Russia when he said, "Starlink satellites will not close the link in Russia."
SpaceX also released a statement underscoring that Starlink is not operational in Russia. "If SpaceX learns that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed," the company said.
A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia.
This is categorically false.
To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2024
But neither Musk nor SpaceX answered whether Starlink could be used in Ukraine territories occupied by Russia. All those technical details needed for authenticating Starlink users, among them a unique identification, would raise questions about the allegations of unauthorized use.
A review by The Wall Street Journal determined that Russian troops might have seized Starlink kits from Ukrainians in fighting and could thus have come into possession of the network. In recent days, Russian forces have taken to attempting to deny Ukraine access to Starlink satellites, which are vital for communications.