Elon Musk’s Starlink Sold to US Enemies via Black Market, Report Claims

Many groups, including rebels in Sudan and Russian troops in Ukraine, have purchased SpaceX Starlink kits from an underground network of illegal sellers, some of which are located in the UAE.

Some feel that American enemies overseas have benefited from these satellite dishes, providing broadband internet access in low earth orbit (LEO). In many war zones, including Sudan, Yemen, and the eastern Ukrainian territories seized by Russia (including Donetsk and Crimea), insurgents have been able to use the illicit Starlink internet to run surveillance drones and plan assaults.

According to Sudanese military sources and third-party vendors, paramilitaries in North Africa have ordered hundreds of Starlink terminals. These groups are believed to be affiliated with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, which receives support from Russia. New information corroborates what Ukraine’s intelligence head, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, said in February when he disclosed that Russian forces had been secretly taking over Starlink equipment for a long time. Industry professionals have raised concerns over SpaceX’s lack of communication regarding suspending illegal Starlink kits.

The SpaceX entity in charge of the world’s network of almost 5,400 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites has declared the right to cut off service to any terminals acquired and used illegally. But the truth is that it has done little to make this policy stick. Since SpaceX is involved in the US military sector—including a newly disclosed surveillance satellite project—Russia and China have banned the sale of Starlink terminals by the Musk-owned enterprise. Furthermore, due to sanctions imposed by the US, Starlink sales are not allowed in several nations, including Venezuela.

Recent developments have shown that the underground Starlink terminal market has been exploited by Sudanese rebels backed by the Russian mercenary Wagner Group. The United States has accused the Sudanese government of ethnic cleansing and war crimes, and the government has been at odds with a rebel group since April of last year. Even though SpaceX has promised to limit the abuse of their technology in war zones throughout the globe, the company has still not helped with the problem of illegal Starlink connections.