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Elon Musk denies selling Starlink terminals to the Russian military

Elon Musk has called reports that Russia is using SpaceX's Starlink satellite devices in Ukraine across the front “false.” In a tweet on February 11, he wrote:

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false. To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

“Even if Putin called me a smart man, I will not give him Starlink terminals,” Musk added in the comments to his post. The SpaceX founder did not specify whether Russia could use Starlink terminals purchased through intermediaries.

The U,S, military portal Defense One, citing Ukrainian sources, previously reported that Russian troops were using dozens of Starlink terminals along the entire length of the front line in Ukraine. Evidence of this has been appearing on social media for a number of months. Russian volunteer groups supporting the army have also demonstrated Starlink terminals purchased for combat units.

Some Russian companies, including iMiele and DJI Russia, have publicly advertised Starlink devices. In a statement last week, SpaceX noted: “If Russian stores are claiming to sell Starlink for service in that country, they are scamming their customers.”

Defense One's Ukrainian sources noted that the Russians could easily purchase Starlink overseas and then transfer it to their military.

According to Ukraine's military intelligence agency HUR, there has been a notable uptick in the deployment of Starlink terminals by Russian forces along the frontline, marking a new twist in the ongoing dynamics between Kyiv and the satellite internet service founded by Elon Musk.

Interceptions of communications among Russian military personnel in the Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine, which is currently under occupation, have revealed the installation and use of Starlink devices to secure internet connectivity, as stated by the intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian defense ministry in a recent website update on Sunday.

In a comment to RBC-Ukraine, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov said that the scale Starlink terminal use by Russian forces in the war is growing:

“Yes, it’s true. Cases of using of the mentioned devices by russian occupants have been recorded. This is starting to become systemic.”

The Kremlin has denied that Russian troops use Starlink. In a call with reporters on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is not a certified system with us; accordingly, it cannot be officially supplied here and is not officially supplied. Accordingly, it cannot be used officially in any way.”

Starlink has emerged as a crucial component in Ukraine's defense against Russia's ongoing military aggression. The service has seen the distribution of thousands of Starlink units to Ukraine, facilitated by donations from SpaceX, acquisitions funded by the U.S. military, and purchases made by Ukrainian volunteers. These devices enable the establishment of high-capacity, mobile communication networks by Ukrainian forces on the battlefield, supporting various functions including the management of operation centers and the coordination of artillery strikes.

The versions of Starlink being utilized in Ukraine, which are available for commercial purchase, start at a cost of $599 for the equipment, with a recurring monthly fee of $120 for the service.

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