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Ukraine dismisses Elon Musk’s ‘fake news’ claims; Russia says it uses Starlink Internet through third countries

Days after Russia was accused of using the Starlink satellite network to conduct military operations, the representative of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Agency announced that Starlink satellite communication systems are being sold in Russia through third countries, to despite the fact that Elon Musk called it fake news.

Andriy Yusov, representative of the Main Intelligence Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, also announced that efforts are being made to counter this threat.

“Russia continues to work through so-called ‘parallel imports’, but in reality it is smuggling. Yes, we will not name specific countries; “This information needs clarification, but Starlink is freely available in Russia on open online platforms,” he said on February 12.

Yusov noted that the use of them on the Russian front line has improved from the previous year and is now “more systematic and rationalized.”

“That is, the occupants are betting on these devices. Of course, work is underway to neutralize this threat. We will not reveal all threats now. No one claims that Starlink is officially being sold to the Russians.

“But today Russia is not only the number one terrorist country, but also the number one smuggling country, so this is a problem they are working on today,” the service was quoted as saying. Interface news agency.

The intelligence agency confirmed the Russians’ use of Starlink over the weekend. He said interception of conversations had revealed that Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, active in the Donetsk region, is using Starlink terminals to access the Internet.

Some unknown Ukrainian sources alleged Last week, Ukrainian troops discovered Russia’s frontline use of satellite-connected devices a few months ago. Russian forces appear to be currently using dozens of Starlink terminals across the long front.

Citing reports on social media, Ukrainian media reported for the first time that the Russian military was using the Starlink service inside Ukraine. The Starlink terminals purchased for army troops would also have been displayed by well-known Russian volunteer groups supporting the Russian invasion.

The recent accusations made by Ukraine may put it on a collision course with Elon Musk once again. SpaceX’s CEO has continued to deny the claims and maintain that his company does not do any business with the Russian military.

Musk’s Starlink sparked controversy… once again!

When reports of Russia using Starlink first emerged, Elon Musk clarified about X: “As far as we know, no Starlink has been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

On February 11, Musk took a stronger stance against the accusations leveled by Ukraine, saying: “Several fake news stories claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false. As far as we know, no Starlink has been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

Elon Musk and Russia are on the same page regarding the latter’s use of Starlink. After Ukrainian Military Intelligence officially made the accusations, the Kremlin fendsaying that since Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet technology was not authorized for use in Russia and was not formally supplied there, Russian troops did not use it.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “This is not a certified system between us; Consequently, it cannot and is not officially supplied here. Consequently, it cannot be used officially in any way.”

“That is why perhaps we should not interfere in the discussion between the kyiv regime and businessman Musk.”

However, the accusations made by Ukraine are serious, given that the Starlink network has been used by Ukrainian forces since the first days of the invasion, mainly to launch attacks against Russian troops. Russia’s use of the same satellite could put Musk in a bind.

The development is significant as following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Musk and the US government sent thousands of Starlink devices to Kiev, allowing Ukrainian forces to communicate in previously inaccessible areas. Furthermore, the equipment was shipped almost immediately after Musk received a request on Twitter.

It is almost ironic, then, that Musk and the Kremlin speak in unison against the Ukrainian accusations that once pitted the kyiv regime and the owner of Starlink. Ukraine and Elon Musk have been clashing on and off for several months.

The latest accusations from Ukraine come after Walter Isaacson’s biography of Starlink owner Elon Musk, which revealed details of the satellite system’s use in the conflict. According to the book, Musk allegedly gave his engineers covert orders to shut down his company’s Starlink satellite communications network near the coast of Crimea to thwart a Ukrainian stealth attack on the Russian naval fleet in October 2022.

Drones from a Ukrainian submarine carrying bombs “lost connectivity and were washed ashore harmlessly” as they approached the Russian fleet, according to Isaacson.

Musk made the decision that caused Ukrainian officials to plead with him to restart the satellites because he was terrified that Russia might use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a Ukrainian attack on Crimea. According to Isaacson, this concern was reinforced by Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials.

In the fall of 2022, Ukrainian troops complained that the satellite network was not working on the front line, causing a catastrophic disruption to their operations. However, the billionaire later clarified that disconnecting the network was aimed at preventing Moscow from using it.

Musk was also accused of talking directly to and negotiating with the Russian president, another claim he categorically denied.

SpaceX's Starlink Internet satellites in orbit
SpaceX’s Starlink Internet satellites in orbit

He also somehow got himself into trouble when he suggested that Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, be recognized as part of Russia and that Ukraine maintain its neutrality. He asked Twitter users to vote on whether or not to accept his idea, angering Ukrainians and prompting an angry response from Ukrainian officials.

Some 42,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine provide military, government and civil communications. The terminals also play an increasingly important role in Ukraine’s counteroffensive, providing Ukrainian troops with portable communication options in rural areas along the front that are too remote or where cell towers have been damaged.

It’s almost funny, then, that despite providing direct assistance to Ukrainian troops, Musk has been at the forefront of several controversies that have angered Kiev, the latest being a clear winner due to the seriousness of the allegations.

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