Ukraine uses US Starlink to strike at Russian forces
- Ukraine - Russia conflict war 2022
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MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS-DEFENSE/. The Ukrainian army uses the US Starlink satellites to strike at the Russian forces, as it has no other communication channels, the US Ars Technica publication said.
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The Ukrainian military uses Starlink. As electricity supplies are interrupted and the situation with Internet access is to deteriorate, Ukraine is using Starlink for certain types of communications. Drones can use it in rural areas for reconnaissance and guidance (Picture source: DOT)
Starlink is a group of satellites for uninterrupted Internet access at 5G speed from any point of the planet, including hard-of-access areas. The deployment began in 2015. The project was initiated by US businessman Elon Musk and is implemented by his SpaceX Company.
The group comprises microsatellites. Sixty test satellites were launched on May 24, 2019 followed by sixty operational satellites on November 11, 2019. As for February 2022, there were 2089 satellites in the near-Earth orbit. Starlink provides Internet access through ground terminals that are sold across the world. Starlink services are available also in Ukraine. Musk said on February 27 that new terminals were on the way to Ukraine. NetBlocks non-profit international monitoring organization later confirmed the launch of the project in the country.
Military experts believe Starlink terminals pose a threat to the project. “The user terminal is the first threat as it is an absolutely autonomous space communication station outside the national control,” military expert Mikhail Khodarenok said.
Autonomous Internet access provides a possibility of access to financial transactions regardless of the government. It can be used in communications for any purpose. Khodarenok believes it “creates numerous indirect threats for the national security.”
The Russian military operation in Ukraine began on February 24. On March 3, Musk warned Starlink and Twitter users about potential Russian strikes at ground terminals. He called to deploy the antenna of the terminal away from large groups of people.
Foreign media said the Ukrainian military uses Starlink. As electricity supplies are interrupted and the situation with Internet access is to deteriorate, Ukraine is using Starlink for certain types of communications. Drones can use it in rural areas for reconnaissance and guidance, Ars Technica writes quoting the British Telegraph.
The Times in the UK quoted a representative of air intelligence of the Ukrainian armed forces as saying that artillery units use Startlink to connect with drones with infrared sensors to detect and track targets at night. The publication said only the latest drones have such a capability. It did not name them.
“There are over five thousand Starlink terminals in the country,” Ars Technika said quoting the Washington Post.
Russian officials reacted to the use of Starlink by the Ukrainian military. “Starlink used to claim it was a purely civilian company,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said on March 2.
Khodarenok believes another threat of multi-satellite orbital groups is the implementation of monitoring (intelligence) technologies of ground, sea, air and space objects.
Starlink is a private company subordinated to the US regulator. “At the early planning stage the regulator submits to the International Telecommunications Union the general description of the group of satellites, as well as frequencies to be engaged,” the expert said.
The international legal base related to multi-satellite low-orbit groups is weak. Khodarenok believes the creation of such sophisticated satellite groups should be placed under national control.