Russian military strikes on Ukraine are getting blamed for a growing number of internet outages across the country.
On Monday, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said it was “highly likely” that collateral damage from Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure is disrupting internet access.
“Over the past week, internet outages have been reported in Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv, and Kharkiv,” the ministry added. All four Ukrainian cities are currently under siege and have faced heavy bombardment from Russian military shelling, which has hit residential buildings.
Over the weekend, Ukraine’s major internet service provider, Ukrtelecom, also reported the Russian bombardments were causing serious damage to its telecommunications network. The company’s repair crews have been working to restore internet services, but Ukrtelecom has been forced to limit customer bandwidth.
“We remind you that due to the damage to infrastructure during the combat, subscribers of 12 regions experience a reduced speed of internet access,” the company wrote in a Sunday message on its Facebook page.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence is accusing the Russian military of deliberately trying to cut off Ukraine’s access to information. “Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure in order to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information,” the ministry wrote in a tweet. As evidence, the UK pointed to a Russian military attack on a TV tower in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv over the weekend.
On Friday, satellite internet provider Viasat also told PCMag it continues to suffer a partial network outage for customers in Ukraine and across Europe. European investigators reportedly suspect hackers linked to the war in Ukraine are causing the outage. But for now, Viasat is only describing the disruption as a “cyber event.”
“The network is stabilized and we are restoring service and reactivating affected terminals as quickly as possible,” Viasat said.
To maintain the country’s internet access, the Ukrainian government has been working with another satellite internet provider, SpaceX’s Starlink. “Next week we will receive another batch of Starlink systems for destroyed cities,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted on Saturday after his government received the initial first batch last week.
However, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has warned that the Russian military will likely target Starlink equipment in Ukraine. As a result, he’s urging users in the country to take precautions when setting up the company’s satellite internet system outside a building.