REPORTS
ANALYTICS
INVESTIGATIONS
  • USD92.75
  • EUR100.44
  • OIL81.19
DONATEРусский
  • 371
News

Starlink terminals for use in occupied Ukraine can be bought in Russia from private sellers starting from $2,600, IStories reports

SpaceX’s Starlink internet terminals “specifically for the special military operation” can be bought from private sellers in Russia for 240 to 299 thousand roubles ($2,600 to $3,300) per unit, according to a report by the independent investigative publication Important Stories (IStories).

As IStories found out in a conversation with representatives of three Russian websites where the terminals are sold, the Starlink terminals work only near Ukraine’s borders, and the devices’ accounts are connected to the larger satellite network through Poland.

The Starlink sellers claim that the terminals will work — without interruption — in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, including Crimea. Starlink's coverage area also extends to Russia’s European exclave Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania, as well as the Kamchatka Peninsula, which is close to Japan.

Andrii Yusov, a spokesman for HUR, Ukraine's Military Intelligence Service, announced on Tuesday that Starlink kits were openly sold in Russia on public platforms. The intelligence service also published a radio intercept of conversations in which Russian military officials were said to be discussing the respective possibilities of acquiring a Starlink satellite terminal. “[The] Arabs bring everything: wires, WiFi, router…” — says one of the voices on the recording. He notes that the cost of purchasing the device is 200 thousand roubles (approximately $2,200).

According to the IStories report, all the terminals on sale are already set up and ready to use. Versions “V1, V2 RV and SL Global” are available for purchase, with their cost varying from 240,000 to 299,000 roubles (approximately $2,600 to $3,300), depending on the website. The Miele online household appliance store, which is also involved in selling equipment officially unavailable in Russia, is also ready to accept a transfer from a legal entity. The purchase can be picked up at two locations in Moscow: in residential buildings near the Aviapark shopping center on Khodynskoye Pole and near the residential building on General Glagoleva Street in the Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district.

As pointed out by IStories, several homes close to the above addresses are on the list of secret facilities of “special consumers of electricity,” previously uncovered by the Dossier Center. Not far from the GRU facilities are the headquarters of the Military Intelligence Service and the Defense Ministry's Military Academy, where intelligence officers are trained. The journalists have not been able to find any direct connection between the addresses of the sellers and the military facilities in the vicinity.

The use of the Starlink terminals by the Russian army was recently covered by The Insider's daily summary of events on the frontline. According to Ukrainian radio technology expert Serhii “Flash” Beskrestnov, there is nothing new in the use of these devices by the Russians in the combat zone. The Starlink terminals work through European accounts and it is practically impossible to distinguish Russian devices from those used by Ukrainians on the line of contact.

Beskrestnov also shared a video demonstrating the “shutdown” of one of the Russian Starlink terminals.

Special military operation

'Special military operation' is a euphemism used by the Kremlin and Russian propaganda to refer to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Oryx

Oryx, or Oryxspioenkop, is a Dutch open-source intelligence defence analysis website, and warfare research group. According to Oryx, the term spionkop “refers to a place from where one can watch events unfold around the world.”

Oryx currently maintains a list covering losses in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The list will continue to be updated until the end of the war by long-time contributor Jakub Janovsky and the open-source intelligence group WarSpotting.

Oryx contributor Jakub Yanovsky recently explained that electronic warfare systems operating in the area prevent SpaceX from accurately determining the location of each of the Starlink systems, meaning that the only way of stopping Russia's use of the terminals would be to disable the satellite coverage entirely. In a comment for The Insider, Janowski added:

“There are ways to stop the Russians from using the service, but both the Ukrainian authorities and SpaceX will have to work hard to do it in a reliable way, while not accidentally blocking the service for Ukrainian [military] units. The Russians will still be able to at least temporarily use the captured terminals, but due to their small numbers this is unlikely to be a problem.”

According to Mikhail Klimarev, a telecom engineer and director of the nonprofit Society for the Protection of the Internet, Starlink terminals determine their location when they are turned on using a GPS module, which is necessary to know where and when to look for SpaceX satellites flying in the sky. In his opinion, SpaceX should keep records (logs) of where the terminals are — this is necessary both to solve the problems of users and to determine which ground stations to connect to:

“I am sure that such things are logged. Accordingly, you can make a query in the database and find out how many terminals are located in a certain area. There won't be so many of them to pair them with some accounts, to find out whose accounts they are.”

The Starlink terminals installed in the war zone are mostly owned by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, but there are also terminals purchased by volunteers. According to Klimarev, Starlink has the technical ability to clarify the parameters of the stations located in the occupied territories in case of suspicion, and to shut down the stations used by the Russian Armed Forces, but lacks the political will to do so.

It should be noted that it is close to impossible to import a Starlink terminal to Russia as a volunteer. Mikhail Klimarev notes that it's a rather large box that can't be easily hidden in a suitcase, for example. And satellite equipment that does not have special licenses and certificates cannot be imported into Russia. Therefore, to import the terminals, one would need to use either special aviation or a diplomatic passport to avoid being checked by customs.

SpaceX founder 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 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.”

In Europe, Starlink terminals cost from €450 to €2,843 (approximately $485 to $3,060), and the price for a standard subscription starts at €50 per month.

In May 2023, The Insider reported that private vendors were selling Starlink in Russia, but did not guarantee that the terminal would be able to secure a connection.

Special military operation

'Special military operation' is a euphemism used by the Kremlin and Russian propaganda to refer to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Oryx

Oryx, or Oryxspioenkop, is a Dutch open-source intelligence defence analysis website, and warfare research group. According to Oryx, the term spionkop “refers to a place from where one can watch events unfold around the world.”

Oryx currently maintains a list covering losses in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The list will continue to be updated until the end of the war by long-time contributor Jakub Janovsky and the open-source intelligence group WarSpotting.

Subscribe to our weekly digest

К сожалению, браузер, которым вы пользуйтесь, устарел и не позволяет корректно отображать сайт. Пожалуйста, установите любой из современных браузеров, например:

Google Chrome Firefox Safari