It was just two sentences by the richest man in the world, the consequences of which were to have a lasting impact on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “The Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More receivers are on the way,” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter on the third day of the war. Earlier, Ukraine’s digital minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked Musk to unlock his Starlink satellite network.
The network spreads high-speed Internet from space. So even if mobile communications and local Internet access fail – or are switched off or destroyed by Russian armed forces.
The support of Musk’s company SpaceX allowed Ukrainian civilians to communicate with the outside world despite the occupation.
In addition, companies that are important for energy and telecommunications, as well as hospitals, have been reconnected to the Internet. More importantly, the military could communicate and thereby repel Russian attacks or launch counter-offensives.
The Starlink satellite network has become indispensable, especially for the Aeroroswidka unit, as various media reports. This operates aerial reconnaissance for the Ukrainian military with drones. Aeroroswidka detects enemy tanks and other means of transport – and also attacks them with drones.
This is also the case at the moment in front of the contested island of snakes in the Black Sea. British intelligence reported on Wednesday that Ukraine had used drones to hit Russian air defenses and ships intended to bring supplies to the island.
Russia is increasingly taking revenge on the fact that since Musk activated Starlink in Ukraine at the end of February, it has not been able to switch off the satellite network again. True, the Russian armed forces have already managed to destroy some receivers. But to shut down thousands of them, Russia would need air sovereignty over Ukraine. In addition, it would bind too many forces.
In March, the Russian military even had brief success trying to block the Starlink network using electronic warfare. But just a day after Russia thought it was on the right track, SpaceX delivered new software that thwarted the plans. That was Musk’s second coup – which hasn’t gone unnoticed in Russia.
The head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, makes serious allegations against the SpaceX boss. The vocal supporter of the Russian attack wrote on Telegram that Musk was “involved in supplying fascist forces in Ukraine with means of military communication”. He will have to answer for that “like an adult”, Rogozin continued.
Musk isn’t the only one involved in Starlink aid. The US government is also involved in making the network available on a large scale.
In addition to the satellites that SpaceX launches into orbit, thousands of receivers are also required on the ground.
Of the more than 10,000 satellite dishes that, according to Digital Minister Fedorov, have been delivered to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, 3,700 came directly from SpaceX. The US Agency for Development Cooperation brought 1,300 more. The remaining 5000 organized other countries or private companies.
According to Digital Minister Fedorov, around 150,000 people in Ukraine can be connected to the Internet. They see how their own military is able to repel some of the Russian attacks. With the help of Starlink – and therefore also of Elon Musk.