Elon Musk Pledges To Support Ukraine With Starlink Internet Systems

Tesla and SpaceX multi-billionaire Elon Musk responded to a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for assistance in protecting his country’s Internet reliability during the invasion by neighboring Russia. Musk has announced his intention to send other Starlink Internet systems to the hardest-hit parts of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said in a tweet he posted on Saturday that he had talked with Musk and had been assured that additional Starlink equipment and support was coming. He thanked Musk for supporting his nation with “words and deeds” and said he looked forward to working with Musk on space projects when peace is restored.

Musk has used his resources as the world’s richest person to impact the conflict in Ukraine by providing access to low-earth-orbit satellite equipment to maintain Internet connectivity in areas where infrastructure has been destroyed or rendered inoperable.

Meanwhile, Musk has refused requests from many governments worldwide to block state-owned Russian media outlets transmitted via Starlink. In a tweet last Friday, Musk said that the company will not block Russian Internet traffic “unless at gunpoint.” He added that he was “sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”

Russia has responded to Musk’s provision of Starlink equipment to Ukraine by blocking access to the company’s satellites in several parts of Ukraine. While the Russian government has had some success in that effort, Musk tweeted last week that SpaceX has developed software modifications to defeat Russia’s attempts at jamming the Internet signals. Musk added that SpaceX would devote additional resources to hardening the company’s cybersecurity capabilities to protect the company’s signals from hostile governments and organizations in the future.

The conflict in Ukraine has placed a heightened focus on control of information flowing in and out of the areas being attacked. Russia appears committed to restricting the broadcast of reports to the world showing the discontent it faces with the war effort among Russian citizens. Ukraine relies on an accessible Internet to transmit messages from Zelenskyy and government officials to citizens and international allies.

Musk also posted a series of tweets last week in which he proposes the US take steps to increase domestic energy production immediately. He pointed out that even though it might harm Tesla, his electric vehicle manufacturing company, America cannot rely on “sustainable energy” to “instantaneously” cover domestic energy needs without Russian oil and gas.