During the annual Yalta European Strategy meeting on September 9, 2023, Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate, confirmed that Ukrainian soldiers on all front lines in the war with Russia are using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite connection. He mentioned that although Starlink coverage was temporarily interrupted in Russian-occupied Crimea, it continues to play a significant role in the battlefield.
Budanov emphasized that Starlink satellites are being utilized extensively for various purposes, including communication, drone transmissions, and remote command posts. He acknowledged the utility of the antennas and the Starlink systems themselves in facilitating these operations.
These revelations come amid allegations that Musk had intentionally sabotaged the Starlink network. A new biography of the SpaceX CEO claims that Musk ordered the shutdown of the network to disrupt a Ukrainian uncrewed surface vessel (USV) attack on the Russian naval fleet near Crimea in 2022. However, Musk categorically denied any involvement in the sabotage, stating that the Starlink network in the region was not active to begin with.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also questioned about the alleged Starlink sabotage during a press briefing on September 10, 2023. While he refrained from speaking about the specific incident, Blinken acknowledged that Starlink has been a crucial tool in the Russia-Ukraine war. He expressed the hope that the technology will remain available to the Ukrainians.
The usage of Starlink by Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines highlights the significance of reliable communication and connectivity in modern warfare. As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, access to advanced satellite technology like Starlink plays a crucial role in enhancing tactical capabilities and situational awareness for the Ukrainian forces.