The Russian armed forces have threatened to destroy Civilian satellites if they are used for Intel gathering about Russian troop movements by Ukraine.
“We confirm that such a quasi-civilian infrastructure, if used in military operations against Russia, can quite logically become a legitimate target for retaliatory defeat,” Vladimir Yermakov, the director of the department of the Russian Foreign Ministry for non-proliferation and arms control said in an interview with Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti.
Yermakov added that the Ukrainians often use low-orbit satellites to reveal the places of deployment and routes of movement of Russian troops. These satellites are also suspected to be used for guidance.
David Gauthier, director of commercial operations at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was quoted as saying by Breaking Defense back in April that his team at NGA “started to facilitate and coordinate independent private efforts to directly provide their products and services to Ukraine” even before the conflict began. NGA assisted the flow commercial imagery — from companies like Planet, Maxar, BlackSky and Capella — not only to Ukraine, but to European Command and NATO, he said.
His remarks echoed those of Stacey Dixon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, here on Tuesday, who said the Intelligence Community had “asked a few commercial companies” to make imagery of what Russia was doing both in the run up to its invasion of Ukraine and during the war “rapidly available.”
Ukrainian officials claimed to have stepped up intelligence sharing with their American allies in order to plan the counteroffensive that allowed them to take back territories in the country’s north-eastern region, New York Times reported in September.
Yermakov also commented on the U.S. testing the concept of a command and control system anywhere in the world. Ukrainian officials have also gone on record to state that Israel is providing Kyiv with intelligence on Iranian kamikaze drones that Russia is reportedly using to strike Ukrainian cities.
Russia's recently-launched Cosmos 2564 "spy" satellite
On November 28, a Soyuz-2.1b rocket launched a Cosmos 2564 satellite into low-earth orbit which the Russian MoD described as a 'military payload.' This the fourth Cosmos satellite launched this year.
Western media has speculated that one or more of the Cosmos series of satellites have payload that can disrupt the communication signals of other satellites in orbit.