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Russia Warned Commercial Satellite Companies That Their Satellites “Legitimate Targets”

Russia warned commercial satellite companies that their satellites were “legitimate targets.”  So will the US Space Force see action if Russia takes out one or more of the commerical satellites orbiting the earth? When pressed on the warning, the Air Force referred the Military.com reporter to the Space Command, and the Space Command referred them to the Pentagon. Classic runaround.

“We would like to specifically stress an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer space technologies and has become apparent during the latest developments in Ukraine. Namely, the use by the United States and its allies of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure elements in outer space for military purposes. Apparently, these States do not realise that such actions in fact constitute indirect participation in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation.” Deputy Head of the Russian Delegationto the United Nations Konstantin Vorontsov

Their warning came with a proposal for UN “rules” that are supposed to prevent any deployment of weapons in Space. They already have “weapons” capable of destroying US or our allies satellites in low-earth orbit, but they are hoping peaceful-sounding rhetoric will deter the US and allies from putting up something that could compete with them. And getting the UN to sign off on such a set of rules would benefit both Russia and China.

The National Defense Strategy released on October 27 stated that US authorities understand that Russia can already attack our GPS satellites and other orbiting platforms. It did  NOT say anything about what they would do if such an attack were to occur against a privately-owned commercial satellite…such as Musk’s Starlink system, for example, which has already been targeted by cyberattacks. We previously reported on that threat.

Musk has been using his Starlink satellites to assist the Ukraine because his system works on battlefields, where GPS is easily jammed. While his system isn’t easily jammed, he states that it’s becoming harder. He would like the US to take over funding. With this latest warning for Russia, it’s doubtful they will do so, but the Starlink system is part of critical infrastructure, and it was used to aid victims of forest fires, hurricanes, etc.

“Starlink is used by the Ukrainians for offensive combat operations as well, including artillery … it has built up just a civilian use and also an offensive military role as well. It’s an interesting question, how the U.S. would respond in that case, to an attack against a U.S. or a multinational space company, particularly one that was involved in supporting an ally or a partner of the U.S.,” Seth Jones, the director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Military.com)

The 2022 National Defense Strategy has a mealy-mouthed answer to the question of response to attacks on even military satellites. By contrast, Trump’s National Defense Strategy specifically stated that “any harmful interference with or an attack upon critical components of our space architecture that directly affects this vital U.S. interest will be met with a deliberate response at a time, place, manner and domain of our choosing.

We like that one better- it’s decisive, not wishy-washy.

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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. She has been writing at Conservative Firing Line since 2013 as well. She is also a published author.

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