Elon Musk’s deployment of thousands of ‘Starlink’ satellite internet terminals in Ukraine was a major boon for soldiers resisting the brutal Russian invasion – a top US general says the service has helped Ukrainians stay connected to the West.
Ukrainian soldiers are said to have used the Internet system operated by SpaceX to coordinate military action as well as to stay in touch with their families – despite Russian efforts to break communications.
Starlink has also helped Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky communicate directly with his compatriots despite heavy Russian bombardments targeting infrastructure.
“The strategic impact is, he totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin’s Information Campaign,” Brig. Gen. Steve Butow, director of the Defense Innovation Unit’s space portfolio, told Politico. “He has never, to this day, been able to silence Zelenskyy.”
Musk touted Starlink, which has more than 400,000 subscribers worldwide, as a source of low-cost broadband internet in areas that previously lacked reliable service.
But the billionaire began shipping Starlink terminals to Ukraine in late February at the request of Ukrainian government officials who feared Russia was cutting off traditional internet access.
“We have over 11,000 Starlink stations and they help us in our daily fight on all fronts,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov told Politico. “We are ready, even if there is no light, no fixed internet, thanks to generators using Starlink, to renew any connection in Ukraine.”
The report provided the latest account of Starlink’s impact on the ground in Ukraine, more than 100 days after the Russian invasion began.
In April, a Ukrainian soldier identified as “Dima” told journalist David Patrikarakos that the service played a key role in the resistance.
“I want to say one thing: @elonmusk’s Starlink is what changed the war in favor of #Ukraine. #Russia did everything possible to blow up all of our communications. Now they can’t. Starlink is operating under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire,” said the soldieraccording to Patrikarakos’ Twitter feed detailing their interview.
And in March, The Times of London reported that Starlink was helping the Ukrainian military use drones to target and destroy Russian tanks.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, openly criticized Musk’s decision to provide internet access, saying the billionaire had “chosen a side” even though SpaceX was a civilian company.
Musk fired back in response to Rogozin’s remarks.
“Ukrainian civilian internet was experiencing strange outages – bad weather maybe? – so SpaceX is helping fix it,” Musk tweeted on March 3.
This article first appeared on NYPost.com