As many as ten companies are suspected of selling satellite images to Russia which are then used to attack critical infrastructure sites in Ukraine, sources with knowledge of the issue confirmed to Kyiv Post.
Such sales would be in violation of current United States and European Union sanctions against Russia.
Included among those suspected of trading with Russia and its proxies are companies from the USA, South Korea, the European Union, Israel and China.
During a recent session of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, Daniel J. Kritenbrink the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, revealed that a Chinese company had sold satellite images to the Wagner Group organization.
One senior Ukrainian official told the Kyiv Post that he had reviewed the intelligence relating to the issue and confirmed that Russia had partnered with foreign companies: "Yes, of course this is happening”. In his view it is because there is little if any oversight of the purchase and sale of satellite imagery for commercial purposes in these countries.
A pro-Ukraine activist told the Kyiv Post that he had disseminated information about this illicit practice to a number of European lawmakers, in the hope that they would take action. His view is that all companies potentially involved in this activity must be fully investigated and criminally prosecuted if found to be in violation of the law. The activist continued that it was imperative that there was a major overhaul of current legislation and that there was more stringent regulation of the satellite industry.
A European Union Member of Parliament, in a former Warsaw Pact country, confirmed that he had received information relating to the use of foreign satellites in this way and that he and his colleagues were keen to investigate the claims and to take the necessary steps to put an end to this practice through the introduction of some form of regulation.
Another Ukrainian official told the Kyiv Post that it was likely that Russia was using front companies, some even located in Ukraine, to purchase the images. These companies would present themselves as a genuine organization, such as the “Ukrainian Geological Research Group”, to avoid suspicion. The source indicated that it was clear that if such a company might "routinely order photos of an object such as an energy station”. Then, if immediately following a missile attack on the energy station, the “Research” company stopped ordering photos of that location, then it is obvious that the photos were ordered to facilitate the missile strike.
At the same time as there has been a surge in calls to provide Ukraine with more air defense technology, something that President Biden promised during his recent trip to Ukraine, an official in Kyiv told the Kyiv Post that in spite of the fact that the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been contacted for assistance it had yet to take any concrete steps to investigate and prosecute those involved in the dirty business.
The FBI declined the Kyiv Post's request for comment.
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