Ukrainian war: How Elon Musk’s Starlink foiled Vladimir Putin’s information campaign


A US general has claimed that Russia failed to break into Ukraine in a key area due to a quick intervention by the richest man on the planet.

A US military official has praised Elon Musk’s Starlink, the satellite internet service providing high-speed connections to the most remote areas of Ukraine, saying the technology has thwarted propaganda efforts by Vladimir Putin and aided the forces on the ground.

US Brigadier General Steven Butow – who worked closely with SpaceX as director of the Defense Innovation Unit’s space portfolio – said SpaceX’s Starlink services were a crucial asset to Ukraine’s military. .

Musk shipped Starlink dishes to Ukraine hours after a request for the terminals from Ukrainian politician Mykhailo Fedorov, following a series of cyberattacks from Russia.

SpaceX has continued to send material, reporting that some 15,000 Starlink kits have been sent to Ukraine over the past four months as the conflict rages.

The program was partly subsidized by the US government.

In AprilThe Washington Post reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development paid SpaceX $2 million (A$2.8 million) for more than 1,300 kits to send to Ukraine.

As a result, officials on the ground were able to immediately send the coordinates of artillery strikes against Russia and continue to broadcast Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches around the world, even from the most remote parts of the country.

“The strategic impact is, he totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin’s information campaign,” General Butow said via Policy.

“He has never, to this day, been able to silence Zelensky.”

Starlink is now used daily by the Ukrainian military to plan missions and counter disinformation from Russia. It also allowed soldiers to stay in touch with their families after being drafted under new Ukrainian legislation during the Russian invasion.

Last week, Zelensky praised the satellite service for keeping Ukraine’s communication channel open to the rest of the world as Russia continues its attempts to lock the nation under siege.

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

“Sometimes we completely lost communication with these places. Losing contact with these people is completely losing control, losing reality.

“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 of Starlink,” added Zelenskyy.

This came as several European cyber defense military chiefs agreed that Russia had been much less effective than expected in using digital warfare capabilities in its offensive against Ukraine.

“Among cybersecurity experts, we were pretty sure there would be a cyber Pearl Harbor based on past experience of Russian behavior and capabilities,” said General Karol Molenda, head of the National Center for cybersecurity from Poland.

But Ukraine was prepared and “resisted attacks from Russia”, Molenda told a meeting of the International Cybersecurity Forum (ICF) in Lille, northern France.

It showed, he added, that you can prepare for a cyber conflict against Russia, which he said was “good in offensive capabilities but not so good in defence.”

He cited the multiple cyberattacks that had hit the country, mainly the work of independent hackers.

Lithuania’s cybersecurity chief Colonel Romualdas Petkevicius said Russia was “not ready for coordinated cyber and kinetic warfare”.

There are cyber activities all over Ukraine, “thousands of them”, he told AFP. “But I don’t think they are very well planned.”

General Didier Tisseyre, head of France’s cyber defense force, made a similar observation about a disconnect between cyberattacks and the Russian military offensive on the ground.

“Maybe they didn’t manage to organize it the way they wanted”, and their abilities “are not as strong as one imagines”, he said.

But the analysis of the conflict is complicated by the fact that groups of independent hackers entered the battle.

The current conflict in cyberspace “is like a Rugby World Cup where all the teams are on the field without their distinctive shirts. The public is also on the pitch and we must prevent tries from being scored.

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