The American company SpaceX took measures to ensure that the Ukrainian military could not use the Starlink satellite Internet to control drones, Reuters writes.
Company president Gwynne Shotwell explained that the Starlink satellite Internet, which was provided to the Ukrainian military to protect against the Russian military, “was never intended to be used as a weapon.”
“There are things we can do to limit their ability to do that,” she said. “There are things we can do, and we’ve already done.” She did not specify what specific measures SpaceX had taken to restrict access.
The use of Starlink drones is outside the scope of an agreement SpaceX made with the Ukrainian government, Shotwell said, adding that the contract was for humanitarian purposes such as providing broadband internet to hospitals, banks and families affected by the Russian invasion.
“We know the military uses them for communications, and that’s fine,” she said. “But we never wanted them to use them offensively.”
In the fall of 2022, Elon Musk and his company SpaceX announced that they could no longer pay for Starlink services in Ukraine: the Ukrainian military is actively using these communication systems. Prior to this, the Ukrainian military complained about disruptions in the work of Starlink, which they use to communicate with each other, receive intelligence and control drones.
Musk wrote a letter to the Pentagon, reporting on the multimillion-dollar losses he allegedly incurs in connection with the fact that he provides Kyiv with satellite communications for free, and offered to shift at least part of the cost to US taxpayers. This letter caused an uproar from users around the world: Musk was accused of inflating the amount of damages, and volunteers around the world offered to co-finance these costs.
The US presidential administration, after Musk’s words and SpaceX’s appeal to the Pentagon, stated that, together with its allies, it was exploring opportunities to provide Ukraine with satellite communications. Musk later withdrew his appeal to the Pentagon. He stated that the company “will continue to finance the government of Ukraine free of charge.”
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