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Russia might have figured out how to block Starlink

by on19 April 2023

Or Musk has switched off access

There appears to be some confusion if the Russians have succeeded in jamming Elon [look at me] Musk’s Starlink satellites.

Since October the Ukrainians have noticed that their Starlink connections have not been as reliable as they used to be, which was put down to Russians working out how to jam them.

The Washington Post claimed that Moscow has experimented with its Tobol electronic warfare systems to disrupt Starlink’s transmissions in Ukraine for months.

According to the findings, it is noted that a programme "ostensibly designed to protect the Kremlin’s satellites can be employed instead to attack those used by its adversaries".

But the timing of the Starlink shutdowns is a little odd. Ukrainian troops reported having experienced disruptions as they moved toward Russian positions during successful counteroffensives in the south and east.

Ukrainian officials said SpaceX might have restricted internet access in those areas to prevent the Russians from using the service, but that would have been possible anywhere Russian forces were operating. In February, Starlink said that it had shut off access to Starlink so that the Ukrainians could not use them for drones. This happened after the Ukrainians snubbed Musk’s peace plan, which essentially involved the Ukrainians losing large swathes of the country to that nice Mr Putin.

Assuming it was the Russians hacking Starlink, there are seven Tobol complexes in Russia which could have done the deed. All of which are located next to facilities used to track satellites.

Three sites disclosed in the US intelligence assessment – one outside Moscow, a site near Crimea and another in the western Russian exclave of Kaliningrad – are the closest facilities to Ukraine, making them suitable for an offensive operation.

Kostiantyn Zhura, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defence ministry, said that officials in Kyiv are aware of Russia’s efforts and are "taking measures to neutralise them".

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