Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has explained that the company’s decision to restrict the use of its Starlink satellite internet service by the Ukrainian military was to prevent an escalation of the conflict that could lead to World War III. Musk made the statement in response to a former NASA astronaut’s request to restore full access to the internet for Ukrainian forces. SpaceX has been using Starlink to keep Ukraine online since the beginning of the war, as the country’s infrastructure was severely damaged by Russian attacks.
While the Ukrainian military has been using Starlink to control drones, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that the service was “never meant to be weaponised” and that the company had taken steps to curb its use. However, she did not elaborate on what measures had been taken. Ukrainian officials have praised Starlink for saving “thousands of lives daily” and said there had been “no problems” with the service.
Musk also noted that SpaceX’s internet terminals were “meant for private use, not military,” but the company had not “exercised [its] rights to turn them off.” The billionaire has used Twitter to express his views on the war in Ukraine and has previously caused concern in Kyiv and among allies after posting tweets that picked up Kremlin talking points, presenting them as a peace plan.
Last October, Musk said he was no longer willing to pay for the Starlink terminals in Ukraine and asked the U.S. Department of Defence to pick up the bill instead.
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