Ukraine claims Russian forces are using Elon Musk's Starlink services
The tech billionaire's service, which uses satellites to deliver internet access to remote places where cellular signal is unavailable, had until recently been an exclusive military advantage to Ukrainian forces.
But Ukrainian military intelligence service HUR announced on Sunday that it intercepted conversations proving Russian forces in Ukraine were now also using the platform to get online.
Audio allegedly recorded on the Russian side of the front line features a male voice speaking in Russian, saying: "Starlink works, there is internet."
Musk's company SpaceX, which operates Starlink, says it does not do business with the Russian government or the Russian military.
"SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia," the company wrote on X.
It said it would investigate cases in which terminals are being used without permission and would shut them down if necessary.
Rumors of Russian access to Starlink intensify
Defense One, a US-based defense news website, earlier in the week cited anonymous sources in the Ukrainian military as saying that Russian soldiers had already started using Starlink months ago in the war zone.
Several reports also claimed the Starlink terminals had ended up in Russian hands via intermediaries in Dubai, although the company said that the service is not available in Dubai, where no devices can be ordered and sales are not authorized.
Starlink has played a major role in Ukraine's defense against Russian forces. After Russia's full-scale invasion began in February 2022, SpaceX provided Ukraine with numerous Starlink terminals.
Since then, however, Musk appears to have limited Ukraine's use of Starlink, and he admitted in 2023 that he had prevented a Ukrainian attack on the Russian Black Sea fleet by refusing to activate Starlink in the region around the annexed Crimea Peninsula.
Cover photo: Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP