Elon Musk’s SpaceX restricts Ukraine’s use of its satellite internet for drones
SpaceX has decided to restrict Ukraine’s military’s use of its satellite internet service, including one used to control drones, as Kyiv battles a large-scale invasion from Russia, the company’s president said on Wednesday. .
The US space company, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been providing internet to Ukraine since last February through its Starlink satellite system.
The service, which was used by the Ukrainian military to control drones, was “never intended to be armed,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday at an event in Washington DC, according to Reuters.
“The Ukrainians exploited it unintentionally and not part of any agreement,” she added.
SpaceX has taken steps to limit the Ukrainian military’s ability to use its internet for drone control, Shotwell said, without detailing what the concrete steps were.
Just days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was accompanied by a series of cyberattacks against the country’s infrastructure, SpaceX decided to connect Ukraine to its Internet network via satellite, allowing online access without the need for fiber cables.
But Musk raised concerns in Kyiv and among Western allies last October after he tweeted a series of talking points from the Kremlin, casting them as a peace plan. Later in October, Musk also said he was no longer willing to pay for Starlink internet terminals in Ukraine, asking the US Department of Defense to take responsibility instead.