The Russian government has claimed that it has the capability to jam satellites. This is a very common capability today, and the Russian military has used it in military exercises in the past. However, the use of this capability has been questioned. The Russian military claims that it targets specific areas, not the super-powerful beam that most satellites emit.
The recent conflict in Ukraine has brought to light the issue of cyber attacks on space systems. A Russian space official has warned that such attacks could lead to war. While the security of the satellites is crucial, a cyber attack could render them useless. Although the Russian military says it is unlikely to destroy or damage a satellite, the recent conflict has raised the possibility of cyber attacks.
A number of private space companies have played a major role in conflict, providing imaging and communications capabilities. The information shared by private space companies like Maxar and Planet helps the military know what’s happening on the ground. However, the Russian military is also concerned that such an action could result in a war.
If Russia does try to launch a military attack against NATO space assets, NATO would most likely invoke its Article V mutual defense pact, which the United States signed at the 2021 Brussels summit. This will make Russia think twice about using its space assets against the West. However, it will still remain important to understand the capabilities of the Russian space assets and how Moscow will respond to them.
Russian military leaders believe that the nature of warfare has changed in the last 30 years and the next generation of warfare will involve the use of satellite navigation and targeting. Satellites are already capable of tracking Russian troops, especially at night, and can also pick up electronic signals. Additionally, they can share their data easily with other countries.
While Starlink is a legitimate military objective, a kinetic attack on it would be overkill and unproportional. China, meanwhile, is closely watching the situation and already has formidable counterspace capabilities. However, the United States military wants to protect Starlink and its utility.
Starlink is a crucial communications and internet technology for the Ukrainian military. It has helped them conduct C2 operations and intercept battlefield communications. One Ukrainian soldier has described the technology as having changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. But denying Ukraine of this technology would give Russia a significant military advantage.
The Committee of Concerned Scientists has been working to raise awareness of the scientists’ plight. The von Karman Institute, which works with the European Union, said that it could not find evidence of disclosing secret information. In fact, they urged the European Commission to pursue the matter with Russia.