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Ukraine Raises Concerns as Russian Forces Utilize Elon Musk’s Starlink Near Frontline: A Growing Systemic Issue


Ukrainian military intelligence has reported that Russian forces have started utilizing Starlink terminals on the frontline, adding a new dimension to Kyiv’s complex relationship with Elon Musk’s internet service.

According to the Ukrainian defense ministry intelligence directorate, intercepted conversations among Russian troops in the occupied Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine suggest that they had Starlink devices installed for internet access. This information was shared on the ministry’s website on Sunday.

According to military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov, the use of Starlink by Russian forces is becoming increasingly widespread, as reported by the RBC-Ukraine news site on Saturday.

Discussion about the alleged use of satellite service by Russian troops gained attention on Ukrainian social networks and media last week. According to a recent announcement on Musk’s X social media platform, Starlink Inc. has confirmed that its service will not be available in Russia.

Starlink’s statement did not provide any details regarding the potential application of the prohibition to the four large areas of eastern and southern Ukraine, which were illegally annexed by Russia in 2022 and are believed to have a significant deployment of Russian troops.

In the past, there have been limitations on the use of internet services in areas under Russian occupation. According to a recent report, it has been revealed that Russian forces are utilizing the satellite internet system in occupied Ukraine.

Musk Deploys Starlink for Ukraine’s Internet Needs Amid Conflict

People stand near a Starlink satellite-based broadband system at a mobile passport application station installed by the State Migration Service in Shevchenk, Kharkiv region, on September 29, 2022.

Musk launched the Starlink satellite service in Ukraine in response to Kyiv’s plea during the early months of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Before long, the devices became an essential component of the nation’s infrastructure, delivering internet services to conflict zones and beyond.

The growing reliance of Ukraine’s military on Starlink has become increasingly evident, causing concerns for its creator. Last year, Musk acknowledged that he had intervened to prevent Starlink from being utilized in a Ukrainian operation targeting a Russian naval base on the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.

The remarks he made caused a strong reaction in Kyiv and led to an inquiry by the US Senate. In a recent interview on the All-In Podcast, Musk mentioned that he would have considered extending Starlink to the Ukrainians in Crimea if there had been a directive from US President Joe Biden.

However, no such directive was given. According to him, Starlink was initially deactivated over Crimea due to the US sanctions on Russia.

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