US Brigadier General Steven Butow said Starlink has “destroyed Putin’s information campaign.”
The internet service helped organize attacks and kept soldiers in touch with family, per Politico.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent over the first Starlink terminals within days of Russia’s invasion.
Starlink, the satellite-internet service from SpaceX, has been crucial part of Ukraine’s defense against Russia, according to a US official and Ukrainian military members.
From sending coordinates for artillery strikes against Russia to broadcasting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speeches across the world, US Brigadier General Steven Butow told Politico that SpaceX’s Starlink services have been indispensable to the Ukrainian military. The general has worked closely with SpaceX as the director of the space portfolio at the defense innovation unit.
“The strategic impact is, it totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin’s information campaign,” Butow told the publication. “He never, to this day, has been able to silence Zelenskyy.”
Starlink’s capabilities are put to the test on a daily basis by Ukrainian soldiers. Politico reported that the satellite dish is used to plan missions and fight misinformation from Russia, as well as keep soldiers in touch with their family and provide a source of leisure activity during down times.
Last week, Zelenskyy praised the satellite service for allowing the Ukraine to maintain contact with the rest of the world.
“It helped us a lot, in many moments related to the blockade of our cities, towns, and related to the occupied territories,” he told Wired in an interview.
“Sometimes we completely lost communication with those places. To lose contact with those people is to lose control completely, to lose reality,” he said. “Believe me: people who got out of the occupied cities, where there was no such assistance as Starlink, said that the Russians told them that Ukraine doesn’t exist anymore, and some people even began to believe it. I am really grateful for the support of Starlink,” Zelenskyy added.
Starlink has been instrumental in allowing Ukraine to overcome Russian cyberattacks. On February 24 — one hour before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine — the nation hacked the satellite provider that was used by the Ukrainian military, per US and UK intelligence reports.
Two days after the attack, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shipped Starlink dishes to Ukraine within hours of a request for Starlink terminals from Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine. Since, SpaceX has continued to send materials. Last week, the company reported it had delivered 15,000 Starlink kits to Ukraine over the past three months.
The Washington Post reported in April that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) paid SpaceX about $2 million for 1,333 terminals to be sent to Ukraine. Joey Roulette, a reporter for Reuters, previously reported that SpaceX sent 3,667 terminals to Ukraine for about $10 million worth of material. The Post reported that USAID could have partially subsidized this donation.
Starlink operates as a constellation of satellites in Earth’s lower orbit. The service was initially designed to provide internet coverage to remote areas. Most recently, SpaceX has begun advertising its service as an option for RV owners.
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