The Russian army in Ukraine using Starlink: Insights from social media images

Ukrainian military intelligence says the Russian military is deploying satellite connection kits from the company Starlink, owned by Elon Musk. Several images recovered from social networks suggest that Starlink antennas were purchased by Russians.

Ukrainian intelligence said on February 11 that the Russian army uses connection kits to the Starlink satellite network. “ Radio interceptions of the invaders' conversations indicate that Starlink terminals were installed, for example, in units of the 83rd air assault brigade of the Russian Armed Forces in order to establish access to the Internet », We can read in a press release. The Defense Department also published an exchange in Russian between two soldiers, with one stating during the conversation that “Starlink works.”

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Elon Musk, the boss of SpaceX, the parent company of Starlink, reacted immediately, declaring on (ex-Twitter) « that a number of false reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is totally false. To our knowledge, no Starlink terminals have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia. »

The company is, however, not accused of directly selling its kits in Russia, but of leaving them active in areas occupied by the Russian army in Ukraine. A Ukrainian resident, who regularly testifies to what is happening there, notably reporting comments from Ukrainian soldiers, first claimed that Starlink kits are arriving in Russia from the United Arab Emirates.

Russia started buying Elon Musk's Starlink from Dubai with authorized accounts »

The specialized media Defense One published an article on February 9 in which a Ukrainian military source also states that “ Starlinks (kits) are purchased through third parties. I'm surprised they didn't do this sooner. »

Starlink kits filmed by Russian army volunteers

At the same time, images filmed in Russia of Starlink products circulated on social networks. “Katia Valia,” a Russian volunteer leading a collection for the army across Russia, shared on her Telegram channel a stock of Starlink drones and kits that she has stored for the army. Katia lives in Moscow and regularly posts videos raising and supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

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Another image that we were unable to source shows the unboxing of a Starlink kit by a soldier. The pattern of the uniform visible in the photo as well as the “fragile” label taped to the cardboard indicate that it could be a Russian soldier.

The patterns on the sleeve as well as the Russian language suggest that the package would be opened by a Russian soldier. // Source: X
The patterns on the sleeve as well as the Russian language suggest that the package would be opened by a Russian soldier. // Source : X

Other images were noted on social networks, notably captured by drones. We do not have enough information to confirm that it is indeed a Russian camp.

A vital need on the front

Internet connections are vital on the front to communicate, but also to take off the thousands of drones which strike daily on each side.

Elon Musk mobilized Starlink during the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to provide aid to the population under attack. Six months later, the billionaire reversed his support and puts forward several arguments to limit his involvement. Behind the scenes, Elon Musk has nevertheless obtained large financial support from the Pentagon to continue sending his connection kits.

While the controversy has been growing in recent days over the probable use of Starlink by the Russian army, the company is responding on that his system is “not not active in Russia, which means the service will not work in this country “. The company adds that it does not have “ never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, and has never shipped equipment to sites in Russia. If Russian stores claim to sell Starlink for service in that country, they are scamming their customers. »

The network, however, remains active in Ukraine. Russian soldiers could provide GPS signals to the Starlink terminal from the invaded country. The Kremlin is also finished by reacting, declaring that his army does not use Starlink, with all the credit that can be given to the word of the Russian authorities.

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Source: ScreenshotSource: Screenshot

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