Russia is one of only a handful of nations, including the United States and China, with offensive space capabilities. In 2021, Russia launched an anti-satellite missile into space to destroy one of its own missiles. (Related: Russian defense minister warns situation in Ukraine "trending towards uncontrolled escalation.")
Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' department for arms control and non-proliferation, said during a meeting with the First Committee of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that the U.S. and its allies were using space as a theater in the Ukraine war to enforce Western dominance.
Vorontsov said the use of Western satellites to provide Ukraine with significant aid in its war effort was "an extremely dangerous trend."
"Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike," warned Vorontsov, adding that the West's use of satellites to support Ukraine was "provocative."
"We are talking about the involvement of components of civilian space infrastructure, including commercial, by the United States and its allies in armed conflicts," he added.
Vorontsov's recent statement echoed similar sentiments he made to the UN last month. "We reiterate our concern about the realization of policies aimed at the placement of weapons in outer space and the use of outer space for military purposes by the group of UN member-states in order to ensure their superiority and supremacy," he said at the time.
In Vorontsov's statement, he did not mention any specific satellite companies. But Elon Musk's private space company, SpaceX, has made headlines since almost the beginning of the conflict for providing free internet service for most of Ukraine through its massive network of Starlink satellites.
Earlier this month, Musk said he would continue paying for the service Starlink is providing Ukraine, citing the need for "good deeds" and for how this internet access provides Ukrainian forces with a "major battlefield advantage."
Musk further claimed that Starlink has not received any funding from the Department of Defense, and that Starlink terminals in Ukraine are being used by both the military and civilian populations.
In response to Vorontsov's statement, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned that it will retaliate if the Kremlin does target American commercial satellites.
"Any attack on U.S. infrastructure will be met with an appropriate response in an appropriate way," said Kirby. "And we're going to continue to pursue all means to expose, deter and hold Russia accountable for any such attack should it occur."
Kirby noted that Russia has been "trying to pursue anti-satellite technology and capability" for years now.
Learn more about the war in Ukraine at WWIII.news.
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