Russian occupiers in Ukraine have commandeered some Starlink terminals and are using them for communications, Ukrainian officials say.

Starlink, a company owned by billionaire Elon Musk, sent terminals to Ukraine soon after Russia’s invasion in February 2022, and they have been key to ensuring the stability of Ukrainian communications. Nevertheless, some terminals have been taken by Russian forces.

“Cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, said in a statement.

Yusov specifically mentioned Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, but added that Ukraine is not yet certain how widespread the use of Starlink is within Russian forces. Starlink itself says it has dealt no business with the Russian government or military.

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Ukraine’s intelligence agency says it confirmed Russia’s use of Starlink thanks to an intercepted exchange between two Russian soldiers discussing how to set up the terminals.

“If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed,” Starlink told Reuters in a statement.

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Elon Musk

News of Starlink’s use by Russian forces comes as Ukraine’s military is stretched thin, with the most recent aid package from the U.S. collapsing in Congress.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also replaced the country’s highest-ranking army general last week. Zelenskyy Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi of his position and thanked him for his service on Thursday— The president said it was not indicative of poor performance but part of bigger refresh of the military.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy United Nations

Zaluzhnyi, who remains highly popular with Ukrainian troops and civilians alike, was replaced as commander-in-chief by Сol. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Fox News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and Reuters contributed to this report

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