SpaceX disables the Starlink Internet service to control Ukraine’s military drones; Starlink “was never meant to be used as a weapon”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has disabled the Starlink Internet service to control Ukraine’s military drones, saying that the company’s product “was never intended to be used as a weapon,” Reuters reported.
During a conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and CEO, said SpaceX has taken steps to prevent Ukraine’s military from using the company’s Starlink satellite internet service for controlling drones in the region during the country’s war with Russia. She also said that the Starlink satellite internet service was “never never meant to be weaponized.”
“However, Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement,” she added.
In addition, Shotwell also told reporters that there were reports that the Ukrainian military had used the Starlink service to control drones. “There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that,” she said, referring to Starlink’s use of the drones. “There are things that we can do, and have done.”
Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian official said today that SpaceX must choose between Ukraine and Russia, Reuters reported.
“A year of Ukrainian resistance & companies have to decide: Either they are on the side of Ukraine & the right to freedom, and don’t seek ways to do harm. Or they are on Russia’s side & its ‘right’ to kill & seize territories,” Podolyak wrote.
The decision to curb the use of Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine comes almost a year after SpaceX provided Ukraine’s military with broadband communications in its defense against Russia’s military.
As we reported back in January 2022, two days after the war broke out between the two countries, Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov asked Elon Musk to get Starlink internet service to Ukraine. The request came as Ukraine suffered through internet and power outages throughout the invasion. Ten hours later, Musk responded in a tweet saying that “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”
However, Starlink satellites not only provided much-needed internet access to the people of Ukraine but also helped Ukrainian forces to dominate the skies. According to a report from the UK news outlet The Week, a group of expert Ukrainian drone pilots called the Aerorozvidka (Aerial Reconnaissance) are reportedly helping to slow down Russian advances. The Aerorozvidka project is an example of what some might call a war startup.