Starlink in the Russo-Ukrainian War

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir with delivered Starlink terminals during the Battle of Kyiv on March 15, 2022.[1]

In February 2022, two days after Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukraine requested American aerospace company SpaceX to activate their Starlink satellite internet service in the country to replace internet and communication networks degraded or destroyed during the war.[2][3][4] Starlink has since been used by Ukrainian civilians, government and military.[3][5] The satellite service has served for humanitarian purposes, as well as defense and attacks on Russian positions.[6]

Initially, SpaceX provided and funded Starlink services to Ukraine largely on their own.[7][8][9] As of June 2023 Starlink expenses for Ukraine are covered by the US Department of Defense through a contract with SpaceX.[10] SpaceX executives have declined to extend Starlink availability to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine like Crimea.[11][6] This was criticized by Ukraine as it prevented them from carrying out military operations in those areas.[12][13][14] Despite this, Starlink is considered to have become a reliable partner to Ukraine in the war.[15]

In 2022, Elon Musk denied a Ukrainian request to extend Starlink's coverage up to Crimea during an attack on a Crimean port due to US Sanctions on Russia.[16] This event was widely reported in 2023 as an erroneous claim that Musk "turned off" Starlink coverage in Crimea.[17][18] SpaceX executives said numerous times that Starlink needed to remain a civilian network;[19][20][11] in late 2022, as Starlink was being used as a tool in combat in Ukraine, SpaceX announced Starshield, a Starlink-like program designed for government customers.[21][19]

In Russia, the use of Starlink to attack Russian targets has been criticized by government officials. Russia's military has repeatedly tried to disrupt Starlink services in Ukraine.[22][10] The Russian military reportedly also used to use Starlink with smuggled terminals.[23] This unauthorized Starlink use was eventually blocked.[15]

Through his company SpaceX and division Starlink, Elon Musk's involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian War has been significant, and met with concerns.[24]

  1. ^ Kitsoft. "Віталій Кличко: Пристрої глобальної супутникової системи Starlink уже в Києві". Офіційний портал КМДА - Головна (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on September 18, 2023. Retrieved September 11, 2023.
  2. ^ Elon Musk says SpaceX's Starlink satellites active over Ukraine after request from embattled country's leaders Archived February 27, 2022, at Ghost Archive, The Independent (26 February 2022)
  3. ^ a b "Elon Musk's Starlink arrives in Ukraine but what next?". BBC News. March 1, 2022. Archived from the original on July 9, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  4. ^ @FedorovMykhailo (February 26, 2022). "@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (February 9, 2023). "Fury in Ukraine as Elon Musk's SpaceX limits Starlink use for drones". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on March 9, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  6. ^ a b "How Elon Musk's satellites have saved Ukraine and changed warfare". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on September 23, 2023. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  7. ^ "SpaceX, USAID deliver 5,000 satellite internet terminals to Ukraine". Reuters. April 6, 2022. Archived from the original on June 6, 2023. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  8. ^ Luxmoore, Matthew (October 14, 2022). "Elon Musk said the cost of maintaining Starlink terminals in Ukraine is approaching $20 million a month and SpaceX can't fund the service indefinitely". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 14, 2022. Retrieved October 14, 2022. Elon Musk said the cost of maintaining Starlink terminals in Ukraine is approaching $20 million a month and SpaceX can't fund the service indefinitely [...] President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to question Mr. Musk's allegiances
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference Brodkin-2022 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ a b Stone, Mike; Roulette, Joey (June 1, 2023). "SpaceX's Starlink wins Pentagon contract for satellite services to Ukraine". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 1, 2023. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  11. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Roulette-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference Sabbagh-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Bajak, Frank (February 9, 2023). "Musk deputy's words on Starlink 'weaponization' vex Ukraine". AP News. Archived from the original on April 28, 2023. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  14. ^ Borger, Julian (September 7, 2023). "Elon Musk ordered Starlink to be turned off during Ukraine offensive, book says". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on September 13, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Bloomberg: Pentagon blocks Russian military from accessing Starlink in Ukraine". The Kyiv Independent. May 9, 2024. Retrieved May 11, 2024.
  16. ^ Cite error: The named reference :1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference Darcy-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference Capoot-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Porter-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  20. ^ Cite error: The named reference Kay-2023 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  21. ^ Cite error: The named reference :4 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  22. ^ "Ілон Маск відреагував на погрози Рогозіна нібито через постачання Starlink українській армії". LIGA (in Ukrainian). May 9, 2022. Archived from the original on June 11, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  23. ^ "Ukraine says Russian forces obtaining Musk's Starlink via third countries". Reuters. February 12, 2024. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  24. ^ Farrow, Ronan (August 21, 2023). "Elon Musk's Shadow Rule". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Archived from the original on September 16, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2023.

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