Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer emphasized the significance of Elon Musk’s internet service Starlink remaining widely available in Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. They highlighted how Starlink has been a vital tool for Ukrainians to communicate with each other during the conflict.
Recent attention on the use of Starlink in Ukraine was sparked by Musk’s revelation. He shared that he had received a request from Ukrainian authorities last year to activate Starlink in Crimea’s port city of Sevastopol, with the intention of disabling the Russian fleet. However, Musk declined the request, stating that he did not want SpaceX to be complicit in an act of war.
An extract from journalist Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography on Musk shed light on the situation. It revealed that Ukrainian underwater drones with explosives lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly when they came close to the Russian fleet. According to the book, Musk feared that Russia might respond with nuclear weapons, based on his own conversations with Russian officials.
When questioned about Musk’s potential communication with Russia, Blinken emphasized the importance of Starlink and did not confirm or deny the existence of such conversations. He reiterated that Starlink has played a crucial role in enabling communication for Ukrainians and stated that they should continue to have access to it.
Ukraine has relied on Starlink since the early days of the war, as Russia had disrupted the country’s internet services. Last year, Musk mentioned that SpaceX could not indefinitely fund the service in Ukraine. However, in June, the Pentagon announced a contract to purchase Starlink satellite services for the country.
In summary, U.S. officials stressed the importance of Starlink in Ukraine during Russia’s invasion. They acknowledged its vital role in facilitating communication among Ukrainians and expressed the belief that access to Starlink should continue.