How Ukraine’s Crowdfunded Spy Tech Is Helping It Strike Russian Targets


Ukraine has used a Finnish-made satellite bought through public donations to launch a number of strikes on Russian targets, including in Crimea, Kyiv’s military intelligence agency has said.

“Exactly one year ago, on September 20, 2022, volunteers handed over the ICEYE spacecraft,” Ukraine’s GUR said in a post to social media on Wednesday.

Finnish technology start-up ICEYE said in mid-August 2022 that it had signed a contract with the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, a Ukrainian organization heavily involved in fundraising for Ukraine’s armed forces, to give Kyiv access to the company’s satellite imaging capabilities.

ICEYE’s small radar “imaging satellites can form high-resolution images of areas of the Earth in daylight, at night, and through cloud cover,” the company said at the time.

Throughout the past year, the ICEYE satellite “has brought many benefits in our fight for freedom,” the GUR said in a statement on Wednesday.

It played “a very important role” in Ukraine’s recent attack on Russian Black Sea naval facilities in Sevastopol, the military intelligence agency added.

A stock illustration of a satellite in space. Ukraine has been using a Finnish-made satellite to conduct operations against Russian forces for a year, including in its recent strikes on Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said on Wednesday.

On September 13, Ukraine struck Russia’s navy in south Crimea, which Russia has controlled since Moscow annexed the peninsula off the coast of mainland Ukraine back in 2014.

Kyiv used what are thought to be British-supplied long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to damage a Russian Kilo-class submarine and Russian landing ship in the dry dock in Sevastopol.

Satellite images shared with Newsweek following the strike showed significant damage to the dry dock in Crimea when compared with footage from the day before the attack.

The ICEYE satellite helps Ukraine “to receive critical intelligence data for combat operations and burn tons of enemy deadly equipment every day,” the GUR said.

The GUR did not specify how many other Ukrainian operations have involved the ICEYE satellite. Newsweek has reached out to ICEYE and the GUR for further information.

Last week’s missile barrage struck Russia’s Rostov-on-Don submarine, becoming the first Russian submarine taken out by Ukraine since the outbreak of all-out war in February 2022. It also damaged the Minsk amphibious landing ship in the Sevastopol dry dock, where the vessels were undergoing repairs.

Back in early March 2023, Ukraine’s GUR said it had been using the ICEYE satellite for five months to receive “the necessary intelligence from space.”

Military intelligence officials had used the satellite to scope out almost 1,000 Russian-controlled areas of interest to Ukrainian authorities, the GUR said in a press release at the time. The satellite had been used to conduct reconnaissance missions for 45 aircraft, 27 helicopters and 36 of Russia’s S-300 air defense systems, the agency added.


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