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• There are no credible government or media reports that indicate the Starlink satellite service was used to facilitate the attack on the Russian ship Moskva.
• The Russian government did not order the destruction of the Starlink satellite service. That claim originated on a fraudulent website falsely identifying itself as the official website of a Russian political party.
The Starlink satellite-based internet service, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has made it possible for vital services in Ukraine to maintain connectivity amid a war. But a social media post cites information from a fake website to claim that the satellite service was part of an attack on the Moskva, a Russian ship that later sank.
"Space X’s Starlink internet constellation has angered Russia as it was reported that the Starlink satellite constellation was used to guide the fire on Moskva," the April 30 post on Facebook said.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The post links to a story on a site called BAP News — with a fabricated "about us" section and fake contact information. The "about us" section is in Latin (while the rest of the website is in English) and the contact information includes a phone number that is (123) 456-7890.
That BAP News story says Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, ordered that Starlink be destroyed after the Moskva attack.
News reports have detailed how the Starlink service is being deployed in Ukraine — including serving as a link to drones used by Ukraine for artillery strikes. But there are no credible government or media reports that the Starlink satellite service was used to facilitate the attack on the Russian ship Moskva.
The few online reports that mention Starlink in connection with the ship attack and Medvedev’s ordering of the destruction of Starlink are not from credible sources.
The claim about Medvedev originated on a fake website that falsely claimed to be the official site of United Russia, a Russian political party, according to reporting by IXBT, a Russian website that reports on the IT sector. The fake website now appears to have been disabled.
Medvedev posted on Telegram on April 16 that the destruction of the satellites was "a fresh idea, thanks." He added, "It is too early to fulfill, but if there is such a request, we will consider it," adding an emoji crying tears of joy.
The Moskva was the flagship of the Russian fleet, and when it sank, Russia said it was because of an accidental fire that ignited ammunition onboard.
But "U.S. officials corroborated assertions by Ukraine’s military that the Moskva was taken down by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles," the New York Times reported.
The Neptune missile "is fitted with an active radar-seeker" that guides it in flight, and the Ukrainian system for the missiles includes launch vehicles and associated search radar, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British research institute.
The Starlink service, meanwhile, "uses terminals that resemble TV dishes equipped with antennas and are usually mounted on roofs to access the Internet via satellite in rural or disconnected areas," the Washington Post reported.
Starlink launched its internet service in Ukraine in late February, just six weeks before the Moskva was attacked.
A Facebook post says, "Space X’s Starlink internet constellation has angered Russia as it was reported that the Starlink satellite constellation was used to guide the fire" on the Russian ship Moskva.
But there are no credible government or media reports that indicate the Starlink service was involved in the attack on Moskva. The claim that a Russian official ordered the destruction of the Starlink satellite service originated on a fraudulent website.
We rate this claim False.
BAP News, "Russiα Announces Space Wαr On Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellites, Accepts Moskva Was Attαcked," accessed May 5, 2022
Facebook post, April 30, 2022
Foreign Policy, "How Elon Musk’s Starlink Got Battle-Tested in Ukraine," May 4, 2022
International Institute for Strategic Studies, "The Moskva incident and its wider implications," April 29, 2022
Luch, "Neptune 360ST missile system," accessed May 5, 2022
New York Times, "What is the Neptune, the Ukrainian-made missile that sank Russia’s warship?," April 17, 2022
Telegram post, April 16, 2022
The State Duma, "Factions,’ accessed May 5, 2022
The Times of London, "Specialist Ukrainian drone unit picks off invading Russian forces as they sleep," March 18, 2022
Washington Post, "Elon Musk’s Starlink is keeping Ukrainians online when traditional Internet fails," March 19, 2022
Washington Post, "Russia says flagship missile cruiser has sunk after explosion off coast of Ukraine," April 14, 2022
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