Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, rejected a request by Scott Kelly, retired NASA astronaut, who is the identical twin of AZ Dem. Sen. Mark Kelly, to allow Ukraine to utilize SpaceX’s Starlink satellites internet services for the nation’s military.
Musk declared “Starlink is aimed only for peaceful use,” last September.
“SpaceX Starlink has evolved into the communications backbone for Ukraine going all the way to the forefront,” Musk wrote in a tweet on January 31. “The damned if you do portion is now. However, we forbid the usage of Starlink for distant drone strikes. This is a damned if you do not part situation.” Following news that the Ukrainian military had utilized Starlink to operate drones, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell decided to double down last week.
However, Shotwell said, “Ukrainians have exploited it in ways that were unplanned and was not a part of any agreement.” Starlink was utilized by Ukraine to provide broadband internet for hospitals, banks, and families devastated by Russia’s invasion and “never was meant to be used as a weapon. We can take steps to restrict their capacity to do that. Things we are capable of doing and have also done.”
Mykailo Podolyak, the top advisor to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, responded by saying, “After a year of Ukrainian resistance, firms have to make the decision: Either they are following the side of Ukraine and the right to freedom, and also don’t seek methods to cause harm. Or they support the RF and support its ‘right’ to commit atrocities and annex land. Mrs. Shotwell and SpaceX (Starlink) should decide on a precise course of action.”
Kelly, though, tweeted to Musk on Saturday, saying, “Ukraine sorely needs your continuous help. Please make sure that your Starlink satellites are operating properly once again. Genocidal invasion defense is not an offensive capacity. It’s about surviving. Unintentional deaths will occur. You can support. I’m grateful.”
Musk said, “You’re clever enough not to believe media as well as other propaganda bs. Starlink serves as Ukraine’s primary means of communication, particularly on the front lines where virtually all other internet access has been destroyed. However, we won’t permit the escalation of hostilities that may trigger World War III.”
Deputy commanding officer of the U.S. Space Command Lt. General John Shaw said in October, “I am convinced that whoever my counterpart in Russia is, he is not very thrilled about Starlink, since it is aiding Ukraine. Additionally, I don’t believe they’re very thrilled about the commercial imagery—like Maxar’s product lines—that is plastering the events in the headlines throughout the world. Because such commercial services conflict with Russia’s national interest, we know they’ll likely take action to try and stop them.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for nonproliferation and arms, Konstantin Vorontsov, issued a warning shortly after, claiming that quasi-civilian infrastructure “may become a legitimate target for retaliation” and that privately operated satellites were “an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer-space technologies.”