Elon Musk denies selling Starlink to Russia after Ukraine claims use in war

Moscow says SpaceX’s internet service ‘cannot be officially used here in any way’.

Elon Musk had earlier refused a request by Ukraine to activate Starlink to assist in a surprise attack on Russia's fleet [File: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images via AFP]

Elon Musk has denied selling his Starlink internet service to Russia after Ukraine claimed the terminals were being used by Russian troops on the front lines of the war.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false,” Musk, who leads SpaceX and several other companies including Tesla, said in the post on X on Monday.

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

Moscow also rejected Kyiv’s claim that Starlink terminals had been smuggled into Russia and were being used on a “systematic” basis in Russian-occupied Donetsk.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Starlink is not certified for use in Russia.

“It cannot be officially supplied here and is not officially supplied here,” Peskov told reporters on Monday.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency GUR said that intercepted conversations among Russian forces revealed that Starlink terminals had been deployed among troops operating near the towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka.

GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov said on state TV that Starlink terminals were entering Russia through parallel importing, not official channels.

Starlink said in a post on X last week that it “does not do business of any kind with the Russian Government or its military” and the service “will not work” in the country.

Ukraine’s military has credited Starlink for allowing its forces to communicate, gather intelligence and coordinate attacks more quickly and securely than would be possible using radio or phone communications.

Last year, Musk came under scrutiny after it emerged that he had refused a request by Ukraine to activate Starlink to assist in a surprise attack on Russia’s fleet in Crimea’s port of Sevastopol.

Musk said he had refused the request, which was first reported in extracts of Walter Isaacson’s biography about the billionaire because it would have made him “explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies