Russian forces are purchasing Starlink satellite Internet terminals in “Arab countries” for use on the battlefield for just over $2,000 each, Ukraine’s military spy agency said.
The service, owned by Elon Musk, has been vital to communications on the Kiev battlefield, but Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces are also increasingly relying on it during their nearly two-year invasion.
The Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) released what it said was an audio intercept of two Russian soldiers discussing the purchase of units from Arab suppliers for around 200,000 rubles, the equivalent of $2,200, each.
“The aggressor state Russia is purchasing communications equipment, including Starlink satellite Internet terminals, for use in the war in Arab countries,” the ministry said on Telegram.
On Monday, GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told Reuters that Russian forces were purchasing the terminals through unspecified third countries.
Russian agents are reportedly using “middlemen” in Dubai to get their hands on the terminals.
An audio clip released by Ukrainian intelligence allegedly shows two Russian soldiers talking about putting their hands on the terminals.
The Elon Musk-owned service has been vital to communications on the Kiev battlefield, but Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces are also increasingly relying on it during their nearly two-year invasion.
Ukrainian servicemen check their tank after maintenance not far from Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on February 5.
Musk has said there have been no official sales between his company and Russian forces.
‘Let me ask you for a Starlink? And you will have a very good connection. Dude, you need a Starlink.
The indicated price is 200,000 rubles. A soldier refers to someone named Oboz who can get the terminals. “The Arabs bring us everything: cables, Wi-Fi, routers,” he says.
Starlink has said it does not do business with Russia or operate on Russian territory. The Kremlin said the terminals were neither certified for use nor officially supplied to Russia and therefore could not be used.
kyiv said on Sunday that Russian troops were using the SpaceX communications device in their invasion of Ukraine, according to a military intelligence spokesman. Andriy Yusov called the problem “systemic.”
He said: ‘Cases of use of these devices by Russian occupiers have been recorded. “This is starting to become systemic.”
But Russia’s 83rd Guards Air Assault Brigade is among those using the service, around the Klishchiivka and Andriivka battlefields, Ukrainian military intelligence agency GUR says.
A Ukrainian soldier installing Starlink satellite equipment
Some believe that Russian forces have been able to ‘spoof’ Starlink terminals, making them appear to be operating in authorized regions.
Some believe that Russian forces have been able to “spoof” Starlink terminals, making them appear to be operating in authorized regions.
Others theorize that Russian soldiers may have stolen terminals from Ukrainian areas that are in authorized regions, but have since been taken over by invading forces.
The system has so far operated in Ukraine, except in Crimea, as Musk wanted to prevent kyiv from attacking Russian warships and use the terminals for humanitarian rather than military purposes.
Musk was praised by dictator Putin this week.
The American technology magnate called for an end to American economic support for Ukraine during the war with Russia.
Musk stated: “It’s time to stop the meat grinder… it should have been done a year ago.”
SpaceX said it “does not do business of any kind with the Russian government or its military.”
The company said: “Starlink is not active in Russia, which means the service will not work in that country.”
“SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia.”