The Pentagon has recently greenlit a deal with SpaceX to acquire Starlink technology for Ukraine, ensuring that Elon Musk cannot sever the connection.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized the purchase of 400 to 500 new Starlink terminals and services in June 2023.
Under this agreement, the Pentagon will have control over the Starlink signal settings within Ukraine, empowering the new devices to carry out their intended functions seamlessly.
This move aims to equip Ukraine with reliable terminals and services, safeguarding communication from any potential disruptions.
Previously, around 1,300 Starlink terminals obtained through a British supplier ceased to function in Ukraine by the end of 2022, mainly due to the government’s inability to make monthly payments of $2,500 per terminal.
It’s worth noting that Starlink’s accessibility in Ukraine was also influenced by the changing frontline dynamics amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Elon Musk utilized geolocation to restrict Starlink’s availability in areas affected by the war.
As of now, more than 42,000 Starlink terminals are actively used in Ukraine, serving various sectors such as the military, hospitals, businesses, and humanitarian organizations.
The background reveals that during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, SpaceX took measures to prevent the Ukrainian military from using Starlink satellite Internet to control drones.
However, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation, reached out to Elon Musk, leading to Ukraine receiving its first satellite internet stations in February, followed by continuous deliveries in March.
Thanks to the Starlink equipment in Kyiv Oblast, residents of cities like Irpin and Romanivka were able to restore communication after the Russian army’s withdrawal from the region.
On 20 April, the regulator allowed all user categories to access Starlink terminals, not just critical infrastructure.
Furthermore, SpaceX permitted the movement of Starlink satellite internet subscriber kits from one location to another in early May.
Russian tactics of creating information vacuums and spreading propaganda during attempts to occupy territory led to instances of disconnecting mobile communications and the Internet in Ukraine.