In response to pleas from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has promised to send additional Starlink systems to provide internet coverage in war-torn areas of the country.
In a Saturday tweet, Zelenskyy announced that he had spoken to Musk, who had promised additional Starlink support. Zelenskyy thanked Musk for "supporting Ukraine with words and deeds" and indicated that he would like to work with Musk on space projects after the war is over.
Musk, who is believed to be the richest person in the world, has become an important figure in the Ukraine-Russia conflict after he agreed to use Starlink systems to provide internet to areas of Ukraine where internet service had been shut off by the invading Russian army.
Musk also made news by refusing to block Russian state-owned news sources like Russia Today from being broadcast on Starlink, which he says many governments asked him to do. "We will not do so unless at gunpoint," Musk tweeted. "Sorry to be a free speech absolutist."
The Russian government has responded to Musk's action by attempting — apparently with some measure of success — to jam Starlink signals in the Ukraine conflict area. In a tweet last week, Musk noted that SpaceX had developed a software workaround to the Russian jamming attempts, and said that SpaceX would reprioritize its resources to promote cybersecurity to ensure that its signals could not be jammed by hostile powers in the future.
Control over the internet and the flow of information into and out of Ukraine has been a key priority for the governments of both Ukraine and Russia during this conflict. Russia seeks to avoid broadcasting to the world or to the Ukrainian people the widespread discontent with the war and courageous protests against it at home, while Ukraine has relied on the messaging of the telegenic Zelenskyy to encourage Western leaders to support their plight against Russia.