LISBON, Portugal — Elon Musk has assured Ukraine that he will continue to fund its access to a crucial satellite network for the country, which among other things allows it to communicate while it defends itself against the Russian invasion, according to a senior Ukrainian official.
Elon Musk “told me personally that he will continue to support Ukraine by continuing to offer Starlink services,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transition Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with the Associated Press.
“We don’t have any problems with Starlink so far,” Fedorov insisted.
Last month, a tweet from Mr. Musk cast doubt on whether SpaceX would continue to offer its Starlink system in Ukraine. The network consists of 2,200 low-orbit satellites that provide Internet access to more than 150,000 Ukrainian ground stations.
The boss of the American company had pointed out that it cost SpaceX 20 million $ US per month to maintain functional Ukrainian communications systems.
He also noted that his company must create, launch, maintain and resupply satellites and ground stations. Mr Musk, the world’s richest man, spent billions to take over Twitter last week.
US officials had previously confirmed that Mr. Musk had asked the Department of Defense to take over funding for the service provided by Starlink in Ukraine.
The role of Starlink’s satellite Internet is essential for the defense of Ukraine. For example, it helps reconnaissance drone operators target artillery strikes on Russian assets and positions.
The conflict in Ukraine is the first major war of the digital age in Europe.