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12 Feb, 2024 00:40

Musk denies providing Starlink to Russia

Ukraine claims its adversaries are using the satellite internet service on the frontline
Musk denies providing Starlink to Russia

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has denied supplying his Starlink satellite internet network to Russian troops. The service has been widely used by the Ukrainian army during the ongoing military conflict.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia,” Musk said on his platform X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday. “To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

Asked whether Starlink terminals can be activated from Russia, Musk replied that “Starlink satellites will not close the link in Russia.”

Musk’s comments come in response to Kiev’s claims that Russian forces are using the Starlink satellite service on the battlefield. Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) said on Sunday that it had intercepted a conversation between Russian soldiers. It released a 15-second recording, in which a person can be heard saying in Russian “Starlink is working, we have internet [access].”

GUR spokesman Andrey Yusov claimed that Russian troops are “systematically” using Starlink terminals. The military-themed news website Defense One cited Ukrainian sources this week as saying that Kiev’s forces first detected the use of Starlink by Russia “several months ago.”

Moscow has not commented on the allegations. SpaceX released a separate statement on Thursday, saying that the company “does not do business of any kind with the Russian government or its military” and has “never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia.”

Musk donated some 20,000 Starlink terminals to Kiev shortly after Russia launched its military operation in February 2022.

The billionaire, however, said that he had refused Ukraine’s request to activate Starlink service in Crimea, explaining that Kiev’s attacks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet would lead to more escalation. While pledging support for Ukraine, Musk has repeatedly said that he favors a peaceful resolution of the conflict.