Starlink ‘destroyed Putin’s information campaign’

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  • US Brigadier General Steven Butow said Starlink had “destroyed Putin’s information campaign”.
  • The internet service helped stage attacks and keep soldiers in touch with their families, according to Politico.
  • SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent out the first Starlink terminals days after the invasion of Russia.

Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service, has played a crucial role in Ukraine’s defense against Russia, according to a US official and Ukrainian military personnel.

From sending coordinates for artillery strikes against Russia to broadcasting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speeches around the world, US Brigadier General Steven Butow told Politico that SpaceX’s Starlink services were indispensable to the Ukrainian army. The general has worked closely with SpaceX as Director of the Defense Innovation Unit’s Space Portfolio.

“The strategic impact is, he totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin’s information campaign,” Butow told the publication. “He has never, to this day, been able to silence Zelenskyy.”

Starlink’s capabilities are put to the test daily by Ukrainian soldiers. Politico reported that the satellite dish is used to plan missions and counter misinformation from Russia, as well as to keep soldiers in touch with their families and provide a source of leisure activities during downtime. .

Last week, Zelenskyy praised the satellite service for allowing Ukraine to maintain contact with the rest of the world.

“It has helped us a lot, in many moments related to the blockade of our cities, towns and related to the occupied territories,” he told Wired in an interview.

“Sometimes we completely lost communication with these places. To lose contact with these people is to completely lose control, to lose reality,” he said. “Believe me: people who came out of occupied cities, where there was no assistance such as Starlink, said that the Russians had told them that Ukraine no longer existed, and some people even started to believe it. I’m really grateful for the support from Starlink,” added Zelenskyy.

Starlink was instrumental in enabling Ukraine to overcome Russian cyberattacks. On February 24 – an hour before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine – the nation hacked into the satellite provider used by the Ukrainian military, according to US and UK intelligence reports.

Two days after the attack, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shipped Starlink antennas to Ukraine hours after a request for Starlink terminals from Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister. Since then, SpaceX has continued to send hardware. Last week, the company announced that it had delivered 15,000 Starlink kits to Ukraine over the past three months.

The Washington Post reported in April that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) paid SpaceX about $2 million to send 1,333 terminals to Ukraine. Joey Roulette, Reuters reporter, formerly reported that SpaceX sent 3,667 terminals to Ukraine for around $10 million worth of hardware. The Post reported that USAID could have partially subsidized this donation.

Starlink functions as a constellation of satellites in the lower Earth orbit. The service was originally designed to provide internet coverage to remote areas. More recently, SpaceX began advertising its service as an option for RV owners.

Read Politico’s full story on its website.

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