Russia is likely using US satellites for missile strikes on Ukraine – The Atlantic

When launching missile strikes against Ukrainian targets, the russian military may be relying on images taken by the American satellites. This is reported by The Atlantic with reference to sources in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

  • According to the sources, commercial satellites take pictures of a certain area in Ukraine, and days or weeks later, russian missiles hit that place. Sometimes another satellite takes additional pictures, perhaps to assess the damage.
  • Given the large number of such cases, it is hard to believe that these are just coincidences.
  • Russia does not have a sufficient number of its own satellites for such a large-scale survey.
  • Despite Ukraine monitoring the orbits of russian satellites, it was previously believed that allied satellites would not be used for russia’s benefit.
  • Now Ukraine suspects that the russian federation can buy satellite images through intermediaries.

Getting satellite images is not that difficult

The are several ways to get satellite images of a needed location.

  • You can find old blurry images on Google Maps for free.
  • Clear up-to-date images cost several thousand dollars on satellite-tracking sites.
  • The faster a picture is needed and the higher the resolution, the more expensive it is. A company in the USA can take a photo of an apartment in Odesa for $1,200 within a few hours.
  • Even archived pictures of military facilities in Ukraine can be easily purchased.

Reaction of American companies

American companies Maxar and Planet claim that they carefully check their customers. They assure that they comply with American sanctions that prohibit cooperation with russia. However, company representatives could not clearly explain how they prevent satellite images from falling into russian hands.

Andrii Liskovich, head of an American non-profit organization that provides non-lethal aid to Ukraine, is skeptical of companies’ claims to control the end use of their satellite images. According to him, they do not have the necessary resources to properly check the end recipients of their products.

Possible solutions

  • Ukraine proposes that companies provide it with a list of filming orders before they are executed.
  • Western governments should impose restrictions on the distribution of satellite images over Ukraine, ensuring access only to carefully vetted recipients.

This is not the first time russia is able to circumvent international sanctions. Previously, it was reported that chips from American manufacturers, in particular large companies Texas Instruments (TI) and Analog Devices (ADI), reach russia despite the sanctions introduced after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Furthermore, russians were able to buy Starlinks through the ties in the Arab countries.