Elon Musk provides satellite-internet service to Ukraine after government plea

Starlink is a space-based system of some 2,000 satellites that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, with the company referring to its dishes as terminals.

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Elon Musk says his satellite-internet service Starlink “is now active” in Ukraine and more of its dishes are “en route” following a request for help from the country’s deputy prime minister.

Mykhailo Fedorov earlier tweeted to the Tesla and SpaceX founder, saying: “Elon Musk, while you try to colonise Mars – Russia tries to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space – Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”

The South Africa-born technology billionaire replied some hours later: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”

Starlink is a space-based system of some 2,000 satellites that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, with the company referring to its dishes as terminals.

Internet provision has been interrupted during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the UK-based NetBlocks reporting connectivity to Ukraine’s main provider GigaTrans dropped to below 20% of normal levels in the early hours of Friday.

Mr Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s digital minister, thanked Mr Musk and separately gave a “special thanks” to Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, “for swift decisions related to authorisation and certification that allowed us to activate Starlink in Ukraine”.

Mr Musk’s mother Maye called the development “Wonderful!” and his younger brother Kimbal shared the “now active” post with the caption: “Go team Ukraine! Putin has to be stopped. It’s either now or later. I say now. Are you with me?”

It comes as Western allies unveiled new measures aimed at hitting Russia’s financial system.

In a co-ordinated move Britain, the US, Canada and the European Union announced selected Russian banks would be excluded from the Swift global payments system.

At the same time they said they would be imposing “restrictive measures” to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves “in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions”.