NewsRussia threatens satellite downing as 'legitimate retaliation'

Russia threatens satellite downing as 'legitimate retaliation'

Created: 09/20/2022, 4:08 p.m

Starlink-Satelliten: Eine Illustration des Starlink-Satellitennetzes von SpaceX.
An illustration of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network. © Science Photo Library/Imago

Russian diplomat Konstantin Vorontsov explained that the Kremlin may soon shoot down civilian satellites in retaliation.

MOSCOW – Ukraine is gradually reclaiming its lands in the east, causing panic in Russia. However, there are already fears that the Kremlin will launch a counterattack. The senior Russian diplomat Konstantin Voronzow hinted to a working group in what form this will take place. In it, he said that civilian satellites in space could be the next target.

In his statement to the Space Threat Reduction Working Group on September 12, Vorontsov warned of a “very dangerous trend”: civilian satellites are being used by the United States and its allies for military purposes. “Our colleagues do not seem to realize that such actions actually constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts,” he says.

Ukraine War: Russian diplomacy considers retaliatory satellite shootdown

The Russian diplomat Voronzow is probably talking about Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites. Soon after the war began, Musk activated satellites in Ukraine, providing the country with broadband internet access. This was a thorn in Russia’s side even then. The Tesla boss even received death threats for this. “Quasi-civilian infrastructure can become a legitimate target for retaliatory measures,” Vorontsov threatens.

From the Russian point of view, this is a violation of the Outer Space Treaty, as reported by “Western countries’ actions unnecessarily endanger the sustainability of peaceful space activities, as well as numerous social and economic processes on Earth that affect the well-being of people, especially in developing countries,” the Russian diplomat is quoted as saying.

Elon Musk already expected attacks on his Starlink satellites – Russia is testing anti-satellite missiles

As early as May, Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that his Starlink network was exposed to severe cyberattacks from Russia. He also expected that the attacks would not decrease. The SpaceX boss said at the time that while it had been possible to resist successfully so far, the aggressors were “increasing their efforts”. The Starlink network cannot be switched off that quickly either, because 3,000 satellites are already orbiting the earth. Only recently they could also be seen over Germany.

Also, Russia’s refusal to stop using anti-satellite missiles makes one sit up and take notice. In November 2021, the Kremlin conducted a test and shot down a two-ton satellite at an altitude of less than 500 kilometers. This met with criticism from several countries, since, among other things, the resulting scrap remains in orbit for several years and poses a threat to other flying objects.

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