- Russia protests against Western satellite aid to Ukraine
- Floats the idea that it could shoot down commercial satellites
- Russian strikes hit infrastructure across Ukraine
- Zelenskiy calls on people to reduce their energy consumption
LONDON/Kyiv, Oct 27 (Reuters) – A senior Russian government official has raised the possibility that Moscow could shoot down Western commercial satellites used to aid Ukraine’s war effort, as Russia continues its bombing campaign against Ukrainian infrastructure.
If carried out, the threat would inevitably raise fears of a spiraling escalation of the eight-month-old conflict and the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and the West.
There was no immediate reaction from the United States or commercial satellite providers.
Konstantin Vorontsov, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, said the use of Western satellites to help Ukraine’s war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend”.
“Quasi-civilian infrastructure can be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” he told the UN First Committee, adding that the West’s use of such satellites to support Ukraine was “provocative”.
“We are talking about the involvement of components of civilian space infrastructure, including commercial ones, by the United States and its allies in armed conflicts,” Vorontsov said.
He did not mention any specific satellite company, although 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”.
Russia has a significant offensive space capability, as do the United States and China. In 2021, Russia launched an anti-satellite missile to destroy one of its own satellites.
In August, Moscow accused the United States of direct involvement in the war after Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that Kyiv was using HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket) launchers. System) provided by the United States based on what he said was excellent. satellite images and real-time information.
Satellite images of the conflict zone captured by US commercial satellite imagery companies are reviewed daily on Twitter by open-source intelligence experts who highlight the coordinates of potential Russian military vulnerabilities.
While Ukraine’s counter-offensive in its southern region of Kherson has slowed in recent days due to wet weather and difficult terrain, and there have been no dramatic changes in the east either. , Kyiv said Russia was continuing a campaign of destruction of critical infrastructure ahead of winter.
Ukrainian officials said the campaign was aimed at breaking people’s spirit of resistance by depriving them of basic public services such as light and heating, a strategy they say is doomed to fail.
Russia says it is targeting infrastructure in what it calls its “special military operation” to degrade Ukraine’s military and eliminate what it says is a potential threat to its own security.
Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv region, said the region, including the capital itself, faced a 30% deficit in its ability to generate the electricity it needs after nightly Russian strikes .
“Last night, the enemy damaged the energy infrastructure facilities in our region. A number of critical facilities were disabled,” Kuleba said in a video clip on the Telegram messaging app.
Separately, the Kyiv region’s military administration said the region should “prepare for indefinite emergency power cuts” due to the strikes.
Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenergo said central Ukraine’s power grid was hit overnight and further electricity supply restrictions were possible.
CALL FOR REDUCTION OF ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Russia has used Iranian-made airstrikes, missiles and drones to step up its strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving millions of people without electricity or heat, and sometimes without water, for long periods.
Oleksandr Starukh, governor of the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, said Russian shells hit the outskirts of the city of the same name overnight and destroyed an unspecified infrastructure object.
Ukraine’s military said about two dozen Iranian-made “Shahed-136” drones targeted the south of the country after taking off from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Air defense forces shot down three over the Mykolaiv region, 15 over the Odessa region and another over the Vinnytsia region, the army said. The Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram that it shot down a Russian Kas-52 attack helicopter and a Su-25 attack aircraft in the south on Thursday morning.
The Russian Defense Ministry, which said its forces repelled attempted Ukrainian advances in the east, said it destroyed a Ukrainian military factory producing solid rocket fuel, explosives and gunpowder near from the city of Pavlograd in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
He said he also shot down a Ukrainian Air Force Mi-8 helicopter.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield accounts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a late address to the nation on Wednesday, said he had held a meeting with government officials to discuss the energy crisis.
He called on people to limit energy consumption for the time being.
“In many cities and regions of Ukraine, emergency power cuts occur and electricity consumption must be limited,” he said.
“But we all have to remember one thing: we also need a victory over Russia in the field of energy.”
Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alex Richardson
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