Ukraine war live updates: U.S. advances military aid bill; Russia accused of using Musk's Starlink in occupied territories

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket flies carrying a payload of 22 Starlink satellites into space after launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base on January 28, 2024 as seen from Los Angeles, California. 

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Ukraine’s main military intelligence agency on Sunday accused Russian forces of using Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in occupied areas.

Starlink has been adamant that its satellite networks have never operated or been marketed in Russia, after its terminals were delivered to Ukraine after the February 2022 invasion in order to facilitate battlefield communications for Ukrainian forces.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false,” Musk posted Sunday on the X social media platform, which he also owns.

“To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

Kyiv’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) claimed Sunday that there was mounting evidence of their use by Russian forces in the partially-occupied eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

“Yes, there have been recorded cases of use of these devices by the Russian occupiers. This is starting to take on a systemic nature,” GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told RBC-Ukraine.

In a statement on its website, the GUR said radio interceptions of conversations between Russian forces showed that Starlink terminals had been installed in units of Russia’s 83rd Assault Brigade operating in Donetsk near the towns of Klischiivka and Andriivka.

– Elliot Smith

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during the weekly Democratic Caucus lunch press conference at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2024. 

Amanda Andrade-rhoades | Reuters

U.S. Senators on Sunday voted to advance a $95 billion aid package to fund Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, signaling that the vital funding will likely have the votes to pass after prolonged and fraught negotiations.

The proceedings will likely carry into next week before a final vote, which would spill into Senators’ two-week recess before the commencement of federal budget talks.

The process could be expedited if all 100 senators unanimously agree, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has openly expressed a desire to delay further.

Read the full story here.

– Elliot Smith

Ukraine accused Russia on Friday of using toxic chemicals in more than 200 attacks on the battlefield in January alone, a sharp increase in what it said were recorded instances of their use by Russian forces since they invaded two years ago.

Russia has denied allegations of using chemical weapons in Ukraine and has accused Ukrainian forces of their use, which Kyiv denies. Neither side has produced evidence and Reuters has not been able to verify any use by either side.

Ukraine has previously accused Moscow of using chloropicrin, which was used as poison gas in World War I. The latest statement by Ukraine’s General Staff singled out CS, or tear gas, which it said Russia had used in various grenades.

CS gas, widely used by police forces, is banned on the battlefield by the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which states in Article 1: “Each State Party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.”

The Ukrainian general staff said: “815 cases of the use of ammunition loaded with toxic chemicals by the Russian Federation were recorded. Of these, only in January 2024 – 229 cases.” It did not name any other chemicals in its statement on the Telegram messenger app.

General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the “Tavria” operational grouping based in the south east, said separately on Telegram that enemy troops deliver chemical-loaded ammunition with drones. He mentioned chloropicrin in reference to chemicals he said had been used on Thursday.

A year ago, Russia accused Ukrainian forces of using unspecified chemical weapons in drones in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine.

— Reuters

Ukrainian consumer price inflation slowed to an annual rate of 4.7% in January and 0.4% month-on-month, the country’s statistics service announced Friday.

Headline inflation has been moderating over the past year, having peaked at 26.6% following Russia’s invasion in 2022. Ukraine’s central bank expects it to remain within its 5% target over the next few months before spiking again in the second half of the year to finish 2024 at around 8.6%.

– Elliot Smith

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