Russian forces disrupt Starlink ahead of Kharkiv offensive — NYT

Starlink are important for communication between the military units on the frontline
Starlink are important for communication between the military units on the frontline

Before its offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Russia disrupted the operation of Starlink terminals used by the Ukrainian military for communications, intelligence gathering, and drone attacks, The New York Times reported on May 24.

The Ukrainian military confirmed that Russia interfered with the Starlink system this month, leading to significant satellite internet disruptions on the front line for the first time. Russia may have used powerful electronic weapons for this purpose, as Elon Musk's company has previously been effective at resisting interference on battlefields facing various electronic warfare weapons.

Read also: Video shows Ukrainian drones taking out Russian Starlink terminal Musk previously denied they used

The attack on communications was linked to Russia's offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainian officials told The New York Times. When the invaders began to advance, the Ukrainian military tried to attack with drones, but communication problems thwarted their efforts. Communication between soldiers became so slow that they had to use text messages in messengers, which were difficult to send, the newspaper reported.

Read also: Poland continues paying for 20,000 Starlink terminals donated to Ukraine

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation, confirmed that Starlink had begun to malfunction because the Russians "use various mechanisms to disrupt the quality of communication." He announced that the connection would improve soon, as the disruptions "put the already stretched Ukrainian army at an even greater disadvantage."

Read also: Pentagon and SpaceX move to block Russia’s access to Starlink

Former Pentagon official and electronic warfare expert Kari A. Bingen said Russia could have disrupted Starlink's operation by using powerful radio frequencies to suppress communication channels. Invisible attacks are usually carried out from a vehicle with a large radio tower.

Experts also speculate that Russia could have used special electronic weapons mounted on drones to disrupt Starlink's GPS signals.

The Washington Post reported on May 17 that on the morning of May 10, when the Russians launched a new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, the Ukrainian Armed Forces lost internet connection due to disruptions in Starlink terminals.

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