Ukraine seeking action to stop Russian use of Starlink, minister says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 19, 2024 | 2:24 PM

(Reuters) – Ukraine has asked Elon Musk’s SpaceX Aerospace company to act to prevent Russia from using its Starlink terminals for communications in areas occupied by Moscow’s troops, a Ukrainian government minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

Starlink terminals were rushed in to help Ukraine after Russia’s February 2022 invasion and have been vital to Kyiv’s battlefield communications. Starlink says it does not do business of any kind with Russia’s government or military.

The Ukrainian military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, told the Wall Street Journal this month that Russian troops were using thousands of Starlink terminals, after acquiring them from private Russian firms that purchased them from intermediaries.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov told public Suspilne television that Ukrainian authorities had sought action from SpaceX even before Russia’s use of the terminals had become well known.

“We found an algorithm and made a proposal to SpaceX and are in communication with them to ensure that such cases do not occur,” Fedorov told the television. “SpaceX has done something similar with the Israeli government.”

Fedorov said Ukraine needed the terminals to work in all areas “because specific technologies are being used linked to drones. There are other ways so that our Starlinks work and others do not. We are working on this with SpaceX.”

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Sandra Maler)