December 3, 2022

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The Ukrainian government is looking for alternatives to Elon Musk’s Starlink

The Ukrainian government is looking for alternatives to Elon Musk's Starlink

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhailo Fedorov speaks at a press conference on November 3 at the 2022 Web Summit event.

Horacio Villalobos | Getty Images

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhailo Fedorov said Thursday that the Ukrainian government is looking for alternatives to Starlink, the satellite internet arm of Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

Musk’s continued support for Starlink in Ukraine was called into question last month when the billionaire said his space venture could no longer fund the operation in Ukraine “indefinitely”. he has said since then He will continue to do so.

During a press conference Thursday at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Fedorov said he did not see any problems with Musk’s continued funding of Starlink in Ukraine. He said the process is now going well.

However, Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s digital minister, said the government is looking for new satellite communication tools to support Ukraine’s IT infrastructure, which has been disrupted by the Russian invasion. Fedorov said he recently received reports of power outages in Ukraine, as Russia launched an attack on the country’s energy infrastructure.

“We also use satellite communication tools,” Fedorov said. “We work with other operators, not just SpaceX.”

“One of the reasons I came to the Web Summit was to seek new partnerships and engage with new partners,” he added.

One alternative partner that Ukraine is already working with is ICEYE, a Finnish company helping the country with its satellite remote imaging capabilities.

At the moment, it does not appear that Starlink will stop operating in Ukraine at this point.

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Last month , musk SpaceX said it could not continue to fund Starlink stations in Ukraine “indefinitely”. The surprise announcement followed a CNN report that his satellite company had asked the Pentagon to cover costs.

In the end, Musk reversed his decision to cut funding. The billionaire tweeted: “Hell, even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting billions of dollars from taxpayers, we will continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free.”

Starlink internet stations donated by SpaceX were crucial to keeping the Ukrainian military online during the war against Russia, even as the communications infrastructure was destroyed. Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Musk, who is no stranger to controversy, has been criticized for his comments about the war in Ukraine. In a Twitter poll, he suggested that regions illegally annexed by Russia should be allowed to hold referendums under the supervision of the United Nations to decide whether they wish to become part of Russia.

He also said he believed Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, is “formally part of Russia” and should be handed over to Moscow.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to Musk, putting up his own Twitter poll asking “Which Elon Musk do you like the most? Someone who supports Ukraine” [or] Who supports Russia?

The outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany even told Musk to “get off work.” When pressed about why he wanted to stop funding Starlink in Ukraine, Musk said he was “only following his recommendation.”

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Ukraine had a prominent presence at the Web Summit, as it seeks help from public and private sources to advance its war against Russia. Earlier in the press conference, Microsoft President Brad Smith announced a $100 million investment in technical assistance to Ukraine, bringing the company’s total contribution to the war effort to $400 million.

Smith said there was a “new kind of hybrid warfare that combines cyber weapons with other assaults on digital technology.”

Smith said Microsoft’s move “will enable the government and other organizations in Ukraine to continue to operate their services through Microsoft’s cloud and our public data centers spread across Europe.”