Starlink terminals, which provide high-speed communications, played a vital role in giving the Ukrainian military an advantage over invading Russian troops.
Ukrainian intelligence said it had confirmed that Russian forces were using the Starlink satellite internet service on battlefields in occupied areas of the country’s east.
Releasing what it claimed was evidence on Sunday, Ukrainian military intelligence said it had confirmed earlier reports of “systemic” use by Russian troops of terminals from Elon Musk’s satellite communications system.
Starlink systems have played a vital role in Ukraine’s battlefield communications during Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion, as kyiv faces a larger and better-equipped army. The personal control of Starlink by the American billionaire, who regularly repeats the Kremlin’s comments on the conflict, remains a concern for kyiv and its allies.
The terminals were urgently deployed to aid Ukraine after Russia’s February 2022 invasion and played a vital role in communications on the Kiev battlefield.
Following reports in Ukraine, Space X said last week that it “does not do any business with the Russian government or its military.”
However, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense (GUR) published an audio clip on Telegram showing Russian troops discussing the installation of terminals in eastern Ukraine.
“Cases of use by the Russian occupiers of the donated devices have been recorded. This is starting to take on a systemic character,” said GUR spokesperson Andriy Yusov.
In a statement, the agency said the terminals were used by units like Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, which is fighting near the besieged towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern Donetsk region.
Reports out of Ukraine last week claimed that Russia was sourcing Starlink equipment from places like Dubai.
Western technological components have regularly been discovered in Russia’s arsenal as Moscow has become more adept at evading sanctions, often importing goods via third countries.
Russian forces launched 45 drones into Ukraine overnight, kyiv reported on Sunday.
The attack, which lasted five and a half hours, targeted agricultural facilities and coastal infrastructure, officials of the Defense Forces of Southern Ukraine wrote on Telegram. They added that a strike in the Mykolaiv region injured one person, started a fire and damaged nearby residential buildings.
Another person was injured in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region when a fire broke out following falling debris from a destroyed drone, the head of the region’s military administration, Serhiy Lysak, said.
The strikes come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues his shakeup of military commanders in a bid to maintain momentum against attacks by Russian forces.
kyiv announced that former Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Pavlyuk will become the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces. The position was previously held by Oleksandr Syrsky, who was named Thursday to replace Ukraine’s outgoing military leader Valerii Zaluzhny.
New presidential decrees also named Yurii Sodol, the former head of Ukraine’s marine corps, as the new commander of Ukraine’s combined forces; Ihor Skibiuk as Commander of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces; and Ihor Plahuta as commander of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.
New commander-in-chief Syrsky said his immediate goals included improving troop rotation on the front lines and harnessing the power of new technologies at a time when Kiev’s forces are largely on the defensive.