kyiv (Reuters) -Russian forces in occupied Ukraine are using Starlink terminals produced by Elon MuskSpaceX for satellite internet in what is beginning to look like its “systemic” application, kyiv’s main military intelligence agency said on Sunday.

The terminals were quickly installed to assist Ukraine after the February 2022 Russian invasion and have been vital to communications on the Kiev battlefield. Starlink says it does not do business of any kind with the Russian government or military.

“There have been cases of use of these devices by Russian occupiers. It is beginning to acquire a systemic character,” said spokesman for the General Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Andriy Yusov.

In a statement, the agency said the terminals were being used by units such as Russia’s 83rd Air Assault Brigade, which is fighting near the besieged towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially occupied eastern region of Donetsk.

The comments were Ukraine’s first official statement on Russia’s alleged use of Starlink.

In a Sunday post on X, Musk said, “To our knowledge, no Starlink has been sold directly or indirectly to Russia.”

“Several fake news stories claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia,” Musk said in the post on X, which he also owns. “This is categorically false.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Two Ukrainian government sources told Reuters earlier this week that Russian use of Starlink had been detected in occupied Ukrainian territory. One said they were trying to obtain data on the scale of such use.

The GUR agency said it had intercepted an exchange between two soldiers discussing the installation of the terminals. He posted what he said was an audio clip of the exchange on the Telegram messenger as evidence.

GUR did not say how it believed Russian forces had obtained the terminals: whether, for example, they had been acquired abroad or captured from Ukrainian forces.

Starlink said on February 8 that its terminals were not active in Russia and that SpaceX had never sold or marketed the service in Russia, nor shipped equipment to locations in Russia.

In a statement published on X, Starlink did not say anything about its possible use in occupied areas of Ukraine.

“If SpaceX becomes aware that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take action to disable the terminal if confirmed,” he said.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk and Tom Balmforth, additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Mark Heinrich)

By Sam