Musk agrees to help Ukraine
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claimed on Saturday that his Starlink satellite internet program now covers Ukraine after a request for aid from Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov.
Fedorov published an open letter to Musk on Saturday, which read, “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,” the vice prime minister requested.
Musk soon accepted the request, tweeting, “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” and was thanked by the country for his decision.
There was speculation online that the move would make it impossible for Russia to shut off Ukraine’s internet access, as the conflict with Russia continues into its fourth day. The Kremlin has expressed no such intention, however, while platforms such as Facebook and YouTube unveiled restrictions targeting Russian media.
Musk’s Starlink project intends to place enough satellites in orbit to provide internet access to the entire globe. SpaceX has already launched more than 1,700 satellites into orbit, with plans for as many as 40,000 satellites in total.
The Russian military has maintained that they are only targeting military infrastructure, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special operation” in Ukraine on Thursday. The operation – which the Kremlin said was in response to the eight-year military conflict between the newly-recognized Donbass republics and Kiev – has seen Russian forces engaging targets all over Ukraine.
Putin argued that the offensive was necessary to “defend” the people of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics from Kiev’s “aggression,” arguing that the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements that should have paved the way for a peaceful settlement between Kiev and Donbass, envisioning more autonomy for the embattled region, never materialized.
The Donbass has been in a state of military conflict with the government in Kiev since the 2014 US-backed coup that brought down the elected government of Ukraine. Kiev branded the separatists fighting Ukrainian forces “terrorists,” with both parties accusing each other of shelling across contact lines.