Western space satellites used in military operations could become a “legitimate target” for a retaliatory strike. This was stated by the director of the department for non-proliferation and arms control of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Vladimir Ermakov.
“Quasi-civil infrastructure [в космосе] could quite logically be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” he said (quote according to RIA Novosti).
Ermakov added that due to the actions of the West, the sustainability of peaceful space activities is at risk, and along with it, “socio-economic processes on Earth, on which the well-being of people depends.” He noted that the use of civilian satellites for military purposes violates the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which provides for the exclusively peaceful use of outer space.
Previously, Russian authorities have repeatedly warned that space infrastructure used by the United States and its allies during the conflict in Ukraine for military purposes could become a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike. In February at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized, that this also applies to commercial satellites. The White House previously stated that an attack on American infrastructure would entail a response, and added that Washington intends to continue to use its funds.
After the start of the special operation in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that several hundred private satellites are involved in military operations “through Western governments,” including Starlink satellites. October 28, 2022 Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev called SpaceX founder Elon Musk to tie up with Starlink in Ukraine.
At the same time, Musk noted that Starlink terminals, being a commercial product, are intended for private use and not for military purposes. According to him wordsa satellite system is used to provide communications in Ukraine, but it should not cause an escalation of the conflict.
In early September, it became known that Starlink satellites were not operating in the Crimea region at the moment when Kyiv planned to attack Russian warships. CNN citing an excerpt from the biography of the billionaire authored by Walter Isaacson wrotethat Musk ordered access to Starlink in Crimea to be cut off to disrupt the attack. Businessman claimedthat the satellites initially did not work due to US sanctions. He clarified that he would have turned on Starlink in Crimea if he had received such a directive from US President Joe Biden.