(NewsReady.com) – Shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine, it began targeting the country’s communication capabilities in order to handicap its military. Elon Musk stepped in and gave Ukraine access to his Starlink satellites. Nearly a year later, the billionaire’s company has curbed the country’s use of the system for one particular reason.
On February 8, Reuters reported SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell held a press conference, announcing the company took steps to prevent Ukraine from using Starlink to support its drone program. The official explained that its internet services were never intended to be used for weaponization. The Ukrainian military has reportedly used Starlink to find Russia’s invading forces, then use unmanned aircrafts to take them out.
Starlink says it limited Ukrainian military use, particularly for drones, because the system was never meant to be used for “offensive purposes.” Guess defending one’s country is now offensive. https://t.co/j3xvUTcI4c
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) February 9, 2023
Shotwell told the press that it’s fine if the Ukrainian military uses Starlink for communications purposes. The satellites are also being used for humanitarian reasons, like hospitals that need the services or banks. However, she said the company’s “intent was never to have [Ukraine] use it for offensive purposes.”
The Guardian reported the move angered Ukrainian officials. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, claimed Musk’s company isn’t recognizing Ukraine’s right to defend itself from hostile forces.
In October, Shotwell asked the Pentagon to begin funding Ukraine’s use of Starlink. Months later, CNN revealed she said she is no longer communicating with the US Department of Defense about the topic, saying the federal government is “not paying.”
Musk defended SpaceX’s move to limit the services for Ukraine after former NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly asked him to restore it fully. Kelly argued that Ukraine using the internet to defend itself against “a genocidal invasion is not an offensive” act. Musk told him, “Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine,” but he will not restore the service for the drones because he doesn’t want to “enable escalation of [a] conflict that may lead to WW3.”
You’re smart enough not to swallow media & other propaganda bs.
Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed.
But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 12, 2023
The Russian war on Ukraine is days away from its first anniversary and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.
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