Starlink vital despite not working for ‘some time,’ says Ukrainian official

Boxes with equipment for Starlink near the Ukrainian administrative building. Credit: Alex Konon /

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite connection is being used by Ukrainian soldiers on all front lines in the war with Russia, a top Ukranian official has said.  

Speaking at the annual Yalta European Strategy meeting on September 9, 2023, Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate, also confirmed that Starlink coverage “did not work for some time” in Russian-occupied Crimea but continues “to play a significant role” in the battlefield. 

“You can say what you want about whether [Starlink satellites] are good or bad, but facts are facts. Absolutely all front lines are using them,” Budanov was quoted as saying by Interfax Ukraine.  

“They have played and continue to play a significant role because so many systems use the antennas, use the Starlink systems themselves, for communications, for drone transmissions, especially in terms of a remote command post and so on,” Budanov continued.  

Budanov’s comments follow allegations that Musk was involved in sabotaging his company’s Starlink satellite communications network.  

A new biography of the SpaceX CEO, which is scheduled to officially go on sale from September 12, 2023, claims that Musk secretly ordered the shutdown of the Starlink network in order to disrupt a Ukranian uncrewed surface vessel (USV) attack on the Russian naval fleet in Sevastopol, near the coast of Crimea in 2022. 

However, on September 8, 2023, Musk denied any involvement in the sabotage mentioned in the biography and stated that the Starlink network in the region could not be turned off as it was not actually turned on. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also asked to comment on the possible Starlink sabotage during a press briefing on September 10, 2023. While he said he could not speak about a specific incident, he noted that Starlink has been a “vital tool” in the Russia-Ukraine war. 

“What we would hope and expect is that the technology will remain fully available to the Ukrainians,” Blinken said.  

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