— Russia has hinted that it could consider Starlink satellites in Ukraine as targets.
— The administration feels that they are provocative use of civilian satellites.
In a thinly veiled statement, Russia has hinted that commercial satellites provided by American companies could be considered ‘legitimate targets for retaliation’.
Although Konstantin Vorontsov did not specifically name SpaceX or Starlink, the message clearly included the company’s space internet assets in the statement.
We would like to specifically stress an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer space technologies and has become apparent during the latest developments in Ukraine. Namely, the use by the United States and its allies of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure elements in outer space for military purposes. Apparently, these States do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect participation in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation. Western actions needlessly put at risk the sustainability of peaceful space activities, as well as numerous social and economic processes on Earth that affect the well-being of people, first of all in developing countries. At the very least, this provocative use of civilian satellites is questionable under the Outer Space Treaty, which only provides for the peaceful use of outer space, and must be strongly condemned by the international community. – Konstantin Vorontsov, Deputy Director in Russia’s foreign ministry.
The statement likely sought to address the fact that Ukrainian soldiers are able to use internet-powered tools in its fight against Russia through the satellites. However, experts are not sure how Russia plans to go through with its threat.
For one, SpaceX has about 3,500 satellites and it would make no sense for Russia to attack them individually because it would cost a lot and new ones could be easily deployed again.
Although, Elon Musk did mention that the satellites had been experiencing what the company’s engineering team believes to be jamming attacks. Still, it has not had the desired effect of taking down the service completely.
On the other hand, viewing the assets as military aid could spell trouble for commercial companies going into the business. China had also expressed the same view about American company satellites.
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