Starlink terminals still available on Russian marketplaces despite restrictions

The continued availability of the satellite communications equipment in Russia comes despite assurances from leading marketplaces that Starlink sales would be blocked in compliance with a Russian government ban on using the terminals within the country.

While major Russian online marketplaces have pledged to prohibit sales of Starlink internet terminals, some sellers appear to be circumventing the restrictions by listing the devices under different branding, according to a review of e-commerce platforms.

On the popular Ozon marketplace alone, at least 12 Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX were recently found listed at prices around $1,600 – significantly higher than the standard $600 retail cost.

The continued availability of the satellite communications equipment in Russia comes despite assurances from leading marketplaces that Starlink sales would be blocked in compliance with a Russian government ban on using the terminals within the country.

It also follows claims that Russian military forces in Ukraine have been increasingly relying on Starlink connections for secure communications on the battlefield after struggling with unreliable internet services.

To evade detection and removal by e-commerce sites, some sellers are listing the Starlink dishes under alternative brand names and descriptions, taking advantage of policies that only filter for the “Starlink” product name.

While Ozon is the most prominent example, similar Starlink terminal listings could be found across various lesser-known Russian online shopping sites and classifieds.

When contacted by reporters, Ozon acknowledged the active terminal listings and pledged to have them swiftly removed for violating its policies on prohibited items.

Access to Starlink has emerged as a flashpoint between SpaceX and Russia during the Ukraine conflict. Last year, Moscow took steps to block transmissions from Starlink satellites over territory it occupies after accusing SpaceX of enabling Ukrainian drone and missile strikes.

For its part, SpaceX has supplied thousands of Starlink dishes to Ukraine as a workaround against Russian attempts to sever communications amid the invasion. Musk and Ukrainian officials have periodically traded accusations about service outages.

The persisting sales raise concerns that Starlink technology could further proliferate among Russian forces seeking alternative secure communications despite Kremlin restrictions. Ensuring terminals don’t reach unauthorized users on either side of the conflict may prove increasingly difficult.