How many hundreds of thousands of terminals would they have to sell to lose track of which, let’s say few hundred? Maybe a thousand? units they’ve sold to Ukraine? Terminals operating in a closed, proprietary, single supplier / operator ecosystem?
If there was any kind of actual technical issue here it could be easily solved. My assumption is that this isn’t a technical issue.
I order a Starlink unit from John Lewis department store and get it delivered in a few days. I buy a subscription with my credit card, registered address somewhere innocuous. I post the equipment to my contact in Turkey, who posts it on to the Soviet Union. It ends up in a Russian army HQ bunker a few hundred metres from a Ukrainian army HQ bunker on the front line. The Russian Embassy UK is paying me monthly to finance the subscription. My subscribed address differs from the geo-location of the actual dish, but that’s the point of Starlink – t’s for remote areas where there are no reliable landline connections.
How easy is it for Starlink to connect all the dots, and distinguish my hardware from the Ukrainian hardware?
I suppose it wouldn’t be technically impossible, just expensive (implementing and supporting a new country-specific verification and filtering pipeline) and thankless (false positives and/or false negatives would be inevitable, drawing further criticism). That would be enough to give pause to an entirely well-meaning enterprise, and here we’re talking about Elon the appeaser.
The Starlink terminals installed in the war zone are mostly owned by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, but there are also terminals purchased by volunteers. According to Klimarev, Starlink has the technical ability to clarify the parameters of the stations located in the occupied territories in case of suspicion, and to shut down the stations used by the Russian Armed Forces, but lacks the political will to do so.