The military intelligence agency of Ukraine has claimed that Russia is using Starlink, the satellite internet system developed by Elon Musk, to access the internet and avoid interception. Spokesman Andriy Yusov reports that Ukrainian analysts have intercepted communications from Russia’s 83rd Separate Air-Assault Brigade in the Donetsk region which show evidence of Starlink access.
Ukrainian officials explain this would cause them to lose their upper-hand. While Ukraine has been able to communicate through encrypted internet channels, Russia has not, and their radio and cell signals have been relatively easy to spy on.
Musk denied these claims via X, calling them “categorically false,” adding that Starlink satellites will not “close the link”—will not connect with dishes—in Russia. In order to function properly, Starlink must connect to said dishes, also known as “terminals,” so Starlink’s refusal to connect means these terminals are useless.
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
Starlink posted an official statement on the subject to X, saying its services do not work in Russia.
However, despite users’ questioning, the company did not confirm or deny if Russian forces could gain access via the disputed territories of Ukraine.
SpaceX does not do business of any kind with the Russian Government or its military.
Starlink is not active in Russia, meaning service will not work in that country. SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia. If…
— Starlink (@Starlink) February 8, 2024
A Starlink website indicates that users need to go through an authentication process before they are granted access, and each user has a unique identifier. But it is possible that Russian forces seized a Starlink terminal from Ukrainians, which would obscure who is using it.
Shane Devine is a writer covering politics, economics, and culture for Valuetainment. Follow Shane on X (Twitter).