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Musk denies Starlink sales to Russia

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Businessman Elon Musk on Feb. 11 said that his SpaceX company sold no Starlink terminals to Russia, directly or indirectly.

He said this in response to several media outlets and Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) reporting that Russia uses Starlink terminals on the front line in Ukraine.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false,” Musk said on his social media platform X.

“To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

In a follow-up statement, Musk said that Starlink would not connect to devices in Russia: “Starlink satellites will not close the link in Russia.”

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency published a clip from an intercepted phone call, where Russian soldiers allegedly discuss having successfully set up a Starlink terminal.

The soldiers are from Russia’s 83rd Assault Brigade based in Donetsk Oblast, near Klishchiivka and Andriivka, according to the agency.

Military intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov told RBC-Ukraine that Russia’s use of Starlink is growing to systemic levels.

Read also: Russian military uses Starlink inside Ukraine, intelligence confirms

While the reports were vague about the consequences of Russia using this technology, Ukrainian service members told Defense One that this would make their lives more difficult.

Starlink is operated by SpaceX and has been extensively used by Ukrainian forces for military applications.

Musk has spoken out in favor of a peace deal with Russia and was reported to be growing more amenable to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the right-wing commentators his government sponsors.

In a Feb. 8 post on X, formerly Twitter, SpaceX officials said the company “does not do business of any kind with the Russian Government or its military. Starlink is not active in Russia, meaning the service will not work in that country. SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia.”

Multiple Russian companies advertise Starlink terminals for sale. SpaceX said these sales are scams.

SpaceX began providing the Starlink satellite internet system to Ukraine shortly after the Russian full-scale invasion in February 2022.

In June 2023, the Pentagon confirmed that SpaceX had won a contract from the Defense Department to provide Ukraine with Starlink satellite services.

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