A US general credits Elon Musk and his internet service Starlink with keeping Ukrainian lines of communication open in the war-torn country, while thwarting Russian efforts to shut them down.
“The strategic impact is, he totally destroyed [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s information campaign,” Brigadier General Steve Butow, director of the space portfolio at the Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley technology outpost, said in a June 8 Politico report. “He has never, to this day, been able to silence (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy.”
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and his company SpaceX are developing the Earthbound satellite network and receivers to beam the internet around the planet, serving areas that couldn’t have high-speed broadband service in the past.
According to the company, signals traveling between receivers on Earth and a “constellation” of satellites orbiting about 342 miles above the surface, are faster than fiber optic networks and can deliver service to more locations. away from the planet.
Musk sent the systems to Ukraine in March after officials requested it following the Feb. 24 Russian invasion, The Washington Post reported at the time.
“While you are trying to colonize Mars – Russia is trying to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets are successfully landing from space – Russian rockets are attacking Ukrainian civilians,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted. to Musk on February 26. “We ask you to supply Ukraine with Starlink stations and ask sane Russians to stand up.”
Musk responded to the message the same day, saying “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals on the way.”
According to the Politico report, the systems kept vital military lines of communication open for Ukrainian forces and were also used by troops to update family members on their situation.
The drones use the information relay provided by the service to target Russian bombs at Russian forward positions and keep residents of combat zones in contact with the rest of the world despite Russian attempts to block communications, according to the report.
“We have over 11,000 Starlink stations and they help us in our daily fight on all fronts,” Fedorov told Politico. “We are ready, even if there is no light, no fixed Internet, thanks to generators using Starlink, to renew any connection in Ukraine.”
Russia hacked into a US satellite company an hour before its February invasion, crippling the Ukrainian military which used the system for communications, as well as thousands of other internet users across Europe, according to the report.
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