Russia says it may hit Western satellites

A senior Russian government official 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 implemented, the threat would inevitably raise fears of a dizzying escalation of the eight-month 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 service providers.

Konstantin Vorontsov, a senior Russian foreign ministry official, said the use of Western satellites to aid Ukraine’s war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend”.

“Quasi-civilian infrastructure can be a legitimate target for a retaliatory attack,” he told the UN First Committee, adding that the West’s use of such satellites to support Ukraine has been “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,” said Vorontsov.

He did not mention any specific satellite companies, although Elon Musk said earlier this month that his rocket company SpaceX would continue to finance its Starlink Internet service in Ukraine, citing the need for “good deeds”.

Russia has 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.

While Ukraine’s counter-offensive in its southern Kherson region has slowed in recent days due to rainy weather and difficult terrain, there have been no dramatic changes in the east either. , Kiev said Russia is continuing a critical infrastructure destruction campaign before winter.

Ukrainian officials said the campaign aimed to break people’s spirit of resistance by depriving them of basic public services such as electricity and heating, a strategy they believe is doomed to fail.

Russia says it is targeting infrastructure in what it calls its “special military operation” to degrade the Ukrainian military and eliminate what it says is a potential threat to its own security.

Russia has used Iranian-made airstrikes, missiles and drones to escalate its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving millions without electricity or heating, and sometimes without water, for long periods.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a belated speech to the nation on Wednesday, said he held a meeting with government officials to discuss the energy crisis.

He called on people to limit their energy use for the time being.

“There are emergency power outages in many cities and regions of Ukraine 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.”

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