“Extremely dangerous trend”: Russia threatens Starlink over aid to Ukraine

At the United Nations, Russia has once again sharply criticized the West’s handling of civilian infrastructure in space in favor of Ukraine.

(Image: Anton Chernigovskii/Shutterstock.com)

Russia has renewed its threat against Starlink and commercial satellites, which are also being used to support Ukraine against Russia’s war of aggression. The use of civilian infrastructure in space for military purposes represents an indirect participation in military conflicts, explained Konstantin Vorontsov at the United Nations. Such “quasi-civilian” infrastructure could become a “legitimate target for retaliation,” he reiterated a September threat. Although he did not name Starlink, the SpaceX system is considered particularly valuable for Ukraine. However, suppliers of high-resolution satellite images such as Maxar and Planet Labs should also fall under the definition of Russia.

Before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly dealing with disarmament, Vorontsov called resorting to Starlink & Co. is now an “extremely dangerous trend”. Western measures would “unnecessarily” endanger the sustainability of peaceful activities in space. It is about “numerous social and economic processes on earth that affect the well-being of people, especially in developing countries”. This “provocative use” of civil satellites is at least “questionable” under the statutes of the Outer Space Treaty. It is still possible to prevent a real arms race in space, the “point of no return has not yet been passed”. Before the panel, Vorontsov now called for international regulations and a ban on the “threat or use of force against or with objects in space.”

Russia’s use of Starlink has been a thorn in its side since the attack on Ukraine. In the meantime, more than 150,000 people have been able to access the Internet via satellite Internet, but the technology is also used at the front. The Ukrainian military can communicate with it and has also used it to coordinate effective drone operations. The then head of the Russian space agency had threatened SpaceX boss Elon Musk in May that he would have to answer for the help “like an adult”. The use of Starlink in Ukraine is also viewed critically in China. Researchers in the service of the People’s Liberation Army have been demanding for months ago that China’s military must be able to destroy the satellite Internet if necessary. Last was there an attack on Starlink modeled with a nuclear bomb.

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