Starlink is key to Ukrainian operations, but the Russians 'will find you' if you use it too long, soldier says
Starlink is key to Ukraine's operations, but if troops use it too long, the Russians can locate them.
Soldiers fighting for Ukraine told Defense One that it's a race against time to use the service.
Starlink has been critical for Kyiv, but there's been some controversy surrounding it.
Starlink has been key to Ukrainian operations and has played a role in their successes on the battlefield, allowing troops to coordinate attacks and communicate with each other, but one soldier told Defense One that if you use the service for too long, there's a chance the Russians "will find you."
The soldier, who goes by the call sign "Boris," said that his team only uses the internet and communications service when it's absolutely necessary. And when they're conducting action behind enemy lines, they have limited time to set up the portable Starlink internet dish, complete their operation, and disperse before they're located by Russian forces.
The Russians "will find you," Boris told Defense One. "You need to do it fast, then get out of there."
Part of the reason the soldiers tend to find themselves in this race against time is the Russians' advanced tracking equipment, but the Starlink terminals are also vulnerable to tracking and jamming. The latter is happening more often, thanks to either more investment from the Russians or more advanced equipment.
Troops say that there are some ways to prevent Russians from interfering with the service, such as placing a Starlink device behind a dirt or concrete barrier to prevent jamming signals. Some soldiers have figured out that putting it in a hole can help too.
Kyiv has relied on Starlink for much of the war, even after SpaceX announced earlier this year would limit the service to prevent forces from using it for certain military purposes, such as drones and artillery attacks, that might represent an escalation.
"We were really pleased to be able to provide Ukraine connectivity and help them in their fight for freedom," SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell said in February. "It was never intended to be weaponized, but the Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement." Ukraine has found workarounds to the limitations though and is still using it in support of certain high-risk operations.
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