SpaceX has withdrawn its satellite support for Ukrainian military operations, saying the Starlink communications service was never intended to be “weaponized.”
The company, which is owned by Elon Musk, provided Starlink terminals to Ukraine shortly after the start of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, in response to a Russian cyberattack aimed at knocking Ukrainian civilians and government offices offline.
Since that time, Starlink and other similar Western communications companies made sure the country has internet, which supports distribution of medicine, aid and other supplies. It has also enabled Ukrainians to document – and publicize – Russian war crimes.
But the line has ben drawn at using Starlink to control armed drones and perform other military tasks, company president Gwynne Shotwell told Breaking Defense last week.
“We were really pleased to be able to provide Ukraine connectivity and help them in their…fight for freedom. It was never intended to be weaponized, however,” Shotwell said during an FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference.
Ukraine told reporters that Kyiv is seeking alternatives to Starlink.