Musk denies selling Starlink terminals to Russia after Kiev claims use in occupied territories

A Falcon 9 rocket launches a Starlink mission from Florida on February 27, 2023.


Ukraine’s main military intelligence service has accused Russian forces of using Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in occupied territories.

Starlink was adamant that its satellite networks were never operational or marketed in Russia, after its terminals were handed over to Ukraine after the February 2022 invasion to facilitate battlefield communications for Ukrainian forces.

“A series of fake news claims that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false,” Musk posted Sunday on the social media platform X, which he also owns.

“To our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

Kyiv’s Central Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed on Sunday that there is growing evidence that the equipment was used by Russian forces in the partially occupied eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

“Yes, there have been recorded cases of the use of these devices by the Russian invaders. This is starting to become systemic,” GUR representative Andriy Yusov told RBC-Ukraine.

In a statement on its websitethe GUR said radio intercepts of conversations between Russian forces showed that Starlink terminals had been installed in units of Russia’s 83rd Assault Brigade operating in Donetsk near the towns of Klischiivka and Andriivka.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond when CNBC reached out for comment.

In a post on X on February 8, Starlink said that “SpaceX does not cooperate of any kind with the Russian government or its military.”

“Starlink does not operate in Russia, which means the service will not work in that country. SpaceX has never sold or made available Starlink to Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia. If Russian shops claim to sell Starlink for service in this country, they are deceiving their customers.”

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