In partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, has delivered 5,000 Starlink terminals to war-torn Ukraine.
Ukraine’s satellite internet connectivity was permanently knocked offline by a cyberattack on the day of the Russian invasion on February 24.
“The Starlink satellite terminals will enable unrestricted, unrestricted data connectivity from anywhere in Ukraine,” USAID said.
The terminals will also allow civil servants and providers of essential services to citizens to continue to communicate within Ukraine and with the rest of the world.
USAID said it could even withstand “brutal aggression” from Russia, which cut connections to Ukraine’s fiber optic or cellular communications infrastructure.
According to an earlier statement from USAID, SpaceX delivered 3,667 satellites at a cost of “approximately $10 million,” with USAID purchasing the remaining 1,333 terminals.
On February 26, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation, called on Musk for help as Ukraine repelled an invasion and supported cyberattacks by Russian forces.
“While you are trying to colonize Mars – Russia is trying to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets are successfully landing from space – Russian rockets are attacking Ukrainian civilians! We ask you to provide Ukraine with stations Starlink and ask sane Russians to stand up,” Fedorov tweeted.
Musk promised to send a truckload of Starlink user terminals to Ukraine in response.
“The cell towers are either exploding or they’re jammed. There’s a major fiber backbone that the Russians are aware of. It was highly likely that they cut that fiber link. That would leave Ukraine with very few open connections. So Starlink might be, certainly in some parts of Ukraine, the only link,” Musk said in an interview with German publishing house Axel Springer.
“We thought Starlink might be needed, and we took preemptive steps to ensure it could be provided quickly. When the request came in, we acted very quickly.
“We can’t let Putin take over Ukraine. It’s crazy,” he added.
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