Can Elon Musk fear that Russia will destroy its commercial satellites?

Should Elon Musk be worried? Having announced that his company SpaceX would continue to provide Ukraine with access to its Internet service provider Starlink, which operates using thousands of satellites, the billionaire may fear that Russia will end up attacking his system.

Moscow has indeed announced its intention to target American commercial satellites used to help Ukraine, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. “They could legitimately be the targets of retaliatory strikes”says Konstantin Vorontsov, one of the pillars of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We would like to denounce this dangerous trend, to say the least, which hides behind the seemingly innocuous use of space technology in the context of the events unfolding in Ukraine”he said during a meeting of the first committee of the United Nations General Assembly. “We are talking here about the use by the United States and its allies of civilian and commercial infrastructure in space in armed conflicts.”

No company has been specifically named, but Elon Musk’s recent statements undoubtedly place Starlink’s activities among the most exposed to possible Russian offensives. Author of several tweets directed against Russia (about Crimea or Ukraine), Elon Musk also stood out in March for having challenged Vladimir Putin to a duel.

On the side of the White House, it is asserted that any attack directed at American infrastructure “will match an appropriate response, performed appropriately”.

Credible threats?

Is Russia able to carry out its threats? For John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the White House National Security Council, one need only look at Moscow’s past actions to “to see that the Russians have already tried to carry out anti-satellite actions”.

Recently, recalls the Wall Street Journal, the boss of SpaceX has also indicated that Starlink had already had to face to Russian attempts to disrupt its operation.

Other companies have also been targeted: this is for example the case of Viasat, a Californian company whose networks suffered, as of February 24, a cyberattack that affected tens of thousands of customers in Ukraine and in several European countries. ‘Europe. In May, the Danish Ministry of Defense announced that Russia was strongly suspected of being behind the sabotage of the satellite.

The weeks and months to come are going to be crucial. Will Russia embark on a series of attacks against some Western commercial satellites? Will the threats remain at the stage of words? It’s hard to say, as desperate Moscow seems to be able to behave unpredictably.

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