Elon Musk pushes back on Ukraine’s claim that Russian forces are using Starlink

Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian military intelligence said Russia is using Musk’s satellites to facilitate communications on the battlefield. The intelligence agency posted audio of an exchange between two Russian soldiers from the 83rd Assault Brigade in the Donetsk region, claiming that the Russians were speaking over Starlink.

Ukraine intelligence did not specify how many terminals it believed Russia had or how they might have been obtained. Still, Ukrainian Military Intelligence Spokesperson Andriy Yusov said that the use of Starlink by Russians was becoming “systemic.”

Not so, says Musk.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false,” Musk posted on X in response to the reports. “To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

In a follow-up statement, Musk clarified that Starlink would not connect to devices in Russia. 

“Starlink satellites will not close the link in Russia,” Musk wrote.

Space X also posted a statement on Thursday saying, “Starlink is not active in Russia.”

“If SpaceX obtains knowledge 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 wrote on X.

However, both Musk and Space X did not clarify whether the technology could be used in Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia.

Users who purchase Starlink services are uniquely identified and must go through an authentication process before using Starlink satellites.

Per a Wall Street Journal analysis, Russian soldiers could have obtained Starlink equipment from Ukrainians through battle and connected to the satellites that way.

“It is possible that Russian forces have captured Starlink equipment from Ukrainian soldiers, allowing them to tap in to the Starlink network,” per the Journal.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Space X did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by Business Insider.

Since the beginning of the war, Russia has been working to remove Ukraine’s access to Starlink satellites, which the embattled region has been relying on for its communications.

Space warfare analysts who spoke to Business Insider say that Russia’s jamming efforts of Starlink have not been successful thus far.

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