Starlink in the Russo-Ukrainian War

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. Starlink has since been used by Ukrainian civilians, government and military. The satellite service has served for humanitarian purposes, as well as defense and attacks on Russian positions. Initially, SpaceX provided and funded Starlink services to Ukraine largely on their own. As of June 2023 Starlink expenses for Ukraine are covered by the US Department of Defense through a contract with SpaceX. SpaceX executives have declined to extend Starlink availability to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine like Crimea. This was criticized by Ukraine as it prevented them from carrying out military operations in those areas. Despite this, Starlink is considered to have become a reliable partner to Ukraine in the war. 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. This event was widely reported in 2023 as an erroneous claim that Musk "turned off" Starlink coverage in Crimea. SpaceX executives said numerous times that Starlink needed to remain a civilian network; in late 2022, as Starlink was being used for combats in Ukraine, SpaceX announced Starshield, a Starlink-like program designed for government customers. 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. The Russian military reportedly also used to use Starlink with smuggled terminals. This unauthorized Starlink use was eventually blocked. Through his company SpaceX and division Starlink, Elon Musk's involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian War has been significant, and met with concerns.

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