This Hybrid CoE Working Paper discusses how the space domain has been used and impacted during the ongoing war in Ukraine. The space domain has arguably not been used in such a versatile manner in any previous conflict, duly providing a major learning opportunity for Western countries.
The focus of this paper is on hybrid threats, tools and actors, and it provides a comprehensive analysis of achieved and predicted impacts, including linkages between the space domain and other hybrid threat domains. Attacks on and hybrid threats towards space infrastructure can have very wide-scale effects since modern societies rely heavily on space-based capabilities. For example, systematic cyberattacks against satellite systems can prevent information sharing and cause disruptions to the energy and transportation sector.
There are several lessons learned:
- The power of crowdsourced situational awareness has been demonstrated in the war. Information from the civilian population has been used to support operations in the field.
- The Russo-Ukrainian war has paved the way for satellite-based technologies to turn into easily accessible everyday tools for both the military and the civilian population. The war has proved that owning space capabilities is not as crucial as having access to them, as shown by the review of some of the most important commercial actors and how their services have been used during the conflict.
- The use of commercial space assets in military operations is blurring the line between military and civilian actors in the war.
- Developments in satellite technologies and their use also foster new combinations of capabilities that can be used for military purposes.
A major threat caused by the war to the space environment and substantial international space programmes has been the degradation of the cooperative spirit among countries. A clear consequence of this are the increasing efforts to ensure sovereignty through each country’s own national or regional activities.