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Internet connectivity in Ukraine has been seriously affected by the Russian invasion, with Reuters reporting that southern and eastern parts of the country – where fighting has been at its heaviest – have been particularly hit.
According to the news agency, while satellite technology is costly to deploy, it can provide internet for people who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and even cell towers cannot reach.
Yesterday (26 February), Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted Musk to call on his help.
Fedorov wrote: “@elonmusk, while you try and colonize Mars – Russia try 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.”
@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try 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.— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 26, 2022
The SpaceX billionaire later replied to confirm that the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service was now available in Ukraine, also saying that further terminals were ‘en route’.
He tweeted back: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Starlink is a space-based system of satellites that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It refers to its dishes as 'terminals'.
Earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX had 1,469 Starlink satellites active, along with 272 moving to operational orbits soon.
Musk's mother Maye Musk retweeted her son's message, writing: "Wonderful!"
His younger brother Kimbal Musk also shared the same 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?”
Fedorov went on to thank Musk along with Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States.
He continued: “Starlink terminals are coming to Ukraine! Thank you @elonmusk, thank you everyone, who supported Ukraine!
“Special thanks to [Ukrainian] in the USA @OMarkarova for swift decisions related to authorization and certification that allowed us to activate the Starlink in Ukraine.”
Internet provision in Ukraine has been disrupted amid the Russian invasion, with the UK-based cybersecurity watchdog NetBlocks reporting that connectivity to Ukraine’s main provider GigaTrans dropped to below 20 percent of normal levels in the early hours of Friday 26 February.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.
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