Russia using thousands of SpaceX Starlink terminals in Ukraine, WSJ says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 4:39 PM

(Reuters) – Russian troops in Ukraine are using thousands of Starlink satellite communications terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the Ukrainian military intelligence chief told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Thursday.

Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov said that Russian troops have been communicating over the Starlink system “for quite a long time” and acquired the terminals from private Russian firms that purchased them from intermediaries.

The intermediaries, he said, deliver the equipment to Russia through neighboring countries, including former Soviet Republics.

Budanov’s agency told Reuters on Monday that Russian troops were communicating over Starlink on their front lines, but did not disclose the extent to which the terminals were in use.

Ukraine relies extensively on Starlink, saying last year that around 42,000 terminals were in use by the military, hospitals, businesses and aid organizations, with the Pentagon helping to fund access for Ukrainian forces.

The Russian Embassy and SpaceX did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Starlink has said it does not do any business in or with Russia. The company did not respond to an email earlier this week asking whether it could categorically rule out the system’s use by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Retired British Army Brigadier Ben Barry told Reuters that if Russian forces are using Starlink their communications would be more secure and harder for Ukraine and its allies to crack.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Jonathan Landay and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)