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Russia Says U.S. Satellites Assisting Ukraine Are 'Legitimate' Targets

Russian Foreign Ministry. Uwe Brodrecht (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Commercial satellites used by the United States to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia are “legitimate” targets for attacks, a Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

Private assets like Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet constellation, as well as Maxar and Planet Labs earth observation satellites, have proven critical in keeping Ukrainians online and piercing the fog of war.

Konstantin Vorontsov, the deputy chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s arms control and nonproliferation department, complained to the UN that the use of such satellites in conflicts marked an “extremely dangerous trend.”

“Quasi-civilian infrastructure could be a legitimate target for retaliation,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted Vorontsov as saying.

In a similarly worded warning in September, Vorontsov stressed that non-military satellite uses “constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts” and should be “strongly condemned” by the international community.

“Western actions create unnecessary risk for the sustainability of peaceful space activities,” Vorontsov said.

The Russian delegation at the UN’s panel on disarmament urged against an arms race in space. Last November, the Russian military tested an anti-satellite weapon in outer space, which the U.S. condemned as a “dangerous and irresponsible” space missile strike.

At the UN panel, Vorontsov accused Ukraine’s Western allies of helping Kyiv develop a so-called “dirty bomb.” Western powers dismiss Moscow’s unfounded “dirty bomb” claims and call them a possible pretext for its own false-flag attack in Ukraine.

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