Elon Musk Steps Up to Save Ukraine's Internet, but Details Are Sparse

The tech billionaire activated his Starlink satellite internet service in the country and said terminals needed to access the service are on the way.

AccessTimeIconFeb 27, 2022 at 5:36 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:21 p.m. UTC

Elon Musk, tech billionaire and founder of aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, has agreed to rescue Ukraine's internet after the country's vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, reached out to him via Twitter.

On Friday, Fedorov asked Musk turn his attention away from space exploration for a bit to help his country stay connected to the internet as the ongoing Russian attacks threaten the nation's internet connectivity.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine on Wednesday. Since then, Western countries have come together to impose strict sanctions on Russia. After a move to block Russia from global banking system SWIFT on Saturday, President Vladimir Putin put the country's nuclear force on high alert.

According to internet governance watchdog NetBlocks, there were significant disruptions to connectivity in multiple parts of Ukraine as Russia advanced.

"We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations," said Federov referring to SpaceX's satellite internet service.

A few hours after Federov's tweet, Musk replied saying Starlink is now active in Ukraine, and that he was sending more terminals needed to use the service.

However, Musk did not specify how SpaceX was planning to get additional terminals to Ukraine. Locals will not be able to access the Starlink network without these terminals.

It's not the first time Musk's company has stepped up to help a country in need. Earlier this year, SpaceX reportedly sent some 50 Starlink terminals to be set up in Tonga in an effort to restore internet following a volcanic eruption.

UPDATE (Feb. 27, 2022, 18:01 UTC): Adds additional context.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.