Russia warns US it may target commercial satellites

A top official at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that US and allied commercial satellites could become legitimate targets for Russia if they are involved in the war in Ukraine.

Russia, which in 1957 launched Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite, into space and in 1961 put the first man into outer space, has significant offensive space capabilities — as do the United States and China. In 2021, Russia launched an anti-satellite missile to destroy one of its own satellites.

Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, told the United Nations that the United States and its allies were trying to use space to impose Western rule.

Vorontsov said the use of Western satellites to help the Ukrainian war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend”.

“The quasi-civilian infrastructure could be a legitimate target for a retaliatory attack,” Vorontsov told the United Nations First Committee, adding that the West’s use of such satellites to support Ukraine was “provocative”.

“We’re talking about the involvement of components of civil space infrastructure, including commercial ones, by the United States and its allies in armed conflict,” Vorontsov said.

He didn’t mention any specific satellite companies, though Elon Musk said earlier this month that his rocket company SpaceX would continue to fund its Starlink internet service in Ukraine, citing the need for “good deeds”.

The war in Ukraine has killed tens of thousands, crippled the post-Covid-19 global economic recovery and triggered the most serious confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

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