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Elon Musk Issues 'Important Warning' About Starlink Satellites Being Used In Ukraine

by : Emily Brown on :
Elon Musk Issues 'Important Warning' About Starlink Satellites Being Used In Ukraine
Elon Musk Issues 'Important Warning' About Starlink Satellites Being Used In Ukraine (Alamy/@FedorovMykhailo/Twitter)

Elon Musk has issued an 'important warning' to those using SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine following the invasion by Russian forces.

The entrepreneur and CEO of the company sent SpaceX equipment to Ukraine after receiving a plea from the country's Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, two days after Vladimir Putin launched an invasion.

In a post on Twitter, Fedorov tagged Musk and asked him to help his country.

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Musk responded just a few hours later to confirm the Starlink service was 'now active in Ukraine' with more terminals 'en route', prompting the vice prime minister to express his thanks, but Musk has since warned the use of Starlink could prove dangerous.

In a post yesterday, March 3, Musk explained Starlink is 'the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine', meaning the probability of it being targeted by Russian forces is 'high'.

'Please use with caution,' he added, before later advising users to only turn on the system 'when needed', to place the antenna 'as far away from people as possible' and to place 'light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection.'

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Fedorov acknowledged Musk's warning as he responded to his tweet to say 'sure', before expressing plans to use the Starlink service 'for Ukrainians also after our victory'.

Musk's fears about the use of the Starlink service have been mirrored by John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab project, who shared a lengthy thread on Twitter about the dangers of using such a system.

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He wrote: 'Re: @elonmusk's starlink donation. Good to see. But remember: if #Putin controls the air above #Ukraine, users' uplink transmissions become beacons ... for airstrikes.... #Russia has decades of experience hitting people by targeting their satellite communications.'

Starlink, SpaceX's satellite-based internet system, has long been used by the company to help bring internet access to underserved areas, with terminals providing fast internet service by connecting to satellites in low orbit. To access the service in the UK users would have to pay £495 for the dish and shipping, plus a subscription of £89 per month, though there is no indication Ukrainians will be charged for using the service.

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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Emily Brown

Emily Brown graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University before going on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems. She joined UNILAD in 2018 and now works as Senior Journalist covering breaking news, trending stories and longer form features with a focus on human interest stories.

Topics: Technology, Russia, Elon Musk, Starlink, Ukraine