Low orbit, new target of the war in Ukraine

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Russia threatens direct attack on US satellites.

L’low-orbit, new target of the war in Ukraine

They are an essential stake in the war in Ukraine. Since the outbreak of the armed conflict last February, Ukrainian soldiers have been using SpaceX's Starlink satellites to access the Internet on the battlefield. At the same time, Uncle Sam's radar satellites provide critical military intelligence for continued operations on the ground.

“A legitimate target for retaliation”

< p>Inevitably, this is not to the taste of Russia, which is becoming more and more threatening on the subject. Deputy Foreign Ministry Director Konstantin Vorontsov has warned that the use of Western commercial satellites in Ukraine could be “a legitimate target”.

Here are his comments in detail  : “We would like to specifically highlight an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the innocuous use of space technologies and which has become apparent during the latest developments in Ukraine. This is the use by the United States and its allies of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure in space for military purposes. “

The leader adds in a threatening tone: ” Apparently, these states do not realize that such actions actually constitute indirect participation in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure can become a legitimate target for reprisals. »

It remains to be seen whether such a maneuver would be possible. In theory, Russia has demonstrated its ability to shoot down satellites. It thus carried out a full-scale test in November 2021 by firing a Nudol missile from the ground which destroyed an old Russian satellite.

Except that harming the constellation of satellites of Elon Musk's company would be another thing. The latter now has nearly 3,000 of them, and an attack in this case would not be effective.

A strike against American or European intelligence satellites would also constitute a form of military escalation. NATO has, moreover, already explained in the past that it would consider this type of initiative as potentially leading to the invocation of Article 5. In other words, this would be equivalent for the military organization to an armed attack against a of its members.

The United States raises its voice

As one might expect, Konstantin Vorontsov's remarks did not go unnoticed across the Atlantic. Thus, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby explained that “any attack on American infrastructure will see an appropriate response“. Wanting to be more explicit, he said the United States would “hold Russia accountable for such an attack, should it occur “.

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