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Tags: russia | ukraine | starlink | elon musk | documents | leaked | intelligence

Report: Moscow Preps Secret Weapon to Take Down Starlink

By    |   Wednesday, 19 April 2023 10:39 AM EDT

Moscow's efforts to take down the Starlink satellite operations that billionaire Elon Musk has been providing to Ukraine's military since the beginning days of the war appear to be more advanced than thought, according to a classified U.S. intelligence report leaked through the messaging platform Discord.

The assessment, which dates to March, says Russia has been testing its Tobol electronic warfare systems to disrupt Starlink's capabilities but doesn't indicate if any of its tests have been successful, reports The Washington Post, which obtained the report.

SpaceX, which owns Starlink, did not comment, but last May Musk wrote on Twitter that Starling had shown its resilience against "jamming & hacking" attempts but said Russia appeared at that time to be intensifying its efforts against the technology.

The Pentagon did not address questions about the leaked assessment, but Defense Department spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz said the military is focused on "getting the Ukrainians the satellite capabilities they need."

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not return a request for comment.

Kostiantyn Zhura, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry, however, said officials in Kyiv are "taking measures to neutralize" Russia's efforts.

The Ukraine military uses Starlink's portable terminals for battlefield and intelligence communications. Russia has been able to disrupt Ukraine's use of radios and cellphones, but Starlink's satellite signals are more difficult.

Last fall, Musk threatened to stop funding for the Starlink service, but changed his mind after he faced backlash for that plan and for a proposal to end the war that critics said favored Russia.

Meanwhile, there have been Starlink outages in Ukraine but is not known if they were caused by Russia's experiments on its Tobol systems or by other means, such as its truck-mounted Tirada-2 system.

Troops in Ukraine said they experienced disruptions in October and suggested at that time that SpaceX had restricted the service in the south and east to keep Russia from using the service, the Financial Times reported.

There are at least seven Tobol complexes in Russia, according to a report by Secure World Foundation. They are all next to facilities that are used for tracking satellites.

Last year, Musk said a software patch helped Starlink overcome interference with its terminals, and Tobol works by disrupting the signals themselves.

The leaked document identifies three locations inside Russia where tests were conducted, with the "estimated center" aimed near Bakhmut in the Ukrainian eastern Donetsk region, where the war's heaviest fighting this year has occurred.

The experiment was launched in late September, but the leaked document shows the report was not prepared for senior U.S. officials for another five months.

The three sites that were disclosed in the assessment were located as being one outside Moscow, another near Crimea, and a third in Kaliningrad, located in western Russia. The three locations are the closest to Ukraine, and Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation, said they could cover the whole country.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Moscow's efforts to take down the Starlink satellite operations that billionaire Elon Musk has been providing to Ukraine's military since the beginning days of the war appear to be more advanced than thought, according to a leaked classified U.S. intelligence report.
russia, ukraine, starlink, elon musk, documents, leaked, intelligence, discord
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2023-39-19
Wednesday, 19 April 2023 10:39 AM
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