How Elon Musk’s StarLink thwarted Vladimir Putin’s information wαr
A US General has claimed Russiα has failed to breach Ukrαine in one key area due to a swift intervention from the richest man on the planet. A US Army official has praised Elon Musk’s Starlink, the satellite internet service providing high speed connections to the most remote regions in Ukrαine, claiming the technology has thwarted Vladimir Putin’s propaganda efforts and assisted forces on the ground.
US Brigadier General Steven Butow — who has been working closely with SpaceX as director of the space portfolio at the defense innovation unit — said SpaceX’s Starlink services have been a crucial asset to the Ukrαiniαn military.
Musk shipped Starlink dishes to Ukrαine within hours of a request for terminals from Ukrαiniαn politician Mykhailo Fedorov, following a series of cyber ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs originating from Russiα.
SpaceX has continued to send materials, reporting some 15,000 Starlink kits have been sent to Ukrαine over the past four months as conflict rages.
The program has been in part subsidised by the US government.In April, The Washington Post reported the US Agency for International Development paid SpaceX $2 million (A$2.8m) for over 1,300 kits to be sent to Ukrαine.
As a result, officials on the ground have been able to immediately send coordinates for artillery strikes against Russiα and continue \broadcasting Ukrαine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches across the world, even from the most remote areas in the country. “The strategic impact is, it totally ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏᴇᴅ [Vladimir] Putin‘s information campaign,” General Butow said via Politico “He never, to this day, has been able to silence Zelensky.”
Starlink is now used every day by the Ukrαiniαn military to plan missions and fight misinformation from Russiα. It has also enabled soldiers keep in touch with their family after being conscripted under new Ukrαiniαn legislation upon Russiα’s invasion.
Last week, Zelensky praised the satellite service for keeping Ukrαine’s channel of communication open to the rest of the world, as Russiα continues its attempts to lock down the nation under seige. “It helped us a lot, in many moments related to the blockade of our cities, towns, and related to the occupied territories,” he told Wired in an interview.
“Sometimes we completely lost communication with those places. To lose contact with those people is to lose control completely, to lose reality. “Believe me: people who got out of the occupied cities, where there was no such assistance as Starlink, said that the Russiαns told them that Ukrαine doesn‘t exist anymore, and some people even began to believe it. I am really grateful for the support of Starlink,” Zelenskyy added. It came as several European heads of military cyber defence forces agreed that Russiα has been far less effective than expected in employing digital ᴄᴏᴍʙᴀᴛ capabilities in their offensive against Ukrαine. “Among cybersecurity experts we were pretty sure that there would be a cyber Pearl Harbor based on past experience of Russiαn behaviour and capabilities,” said General Karol Molenda, head of Poland’s National Cyber Security Centre.
But Ukrαine was prepared and “withstood ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs from Russiα”, Molenda told a meeting of the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) held in the northern France city of Lille. This showed, he added, that you can prepare for cyber conflict against Russiα, which he said was “good at offensive capabilities but not so good at defence”.He cited multiple cyber ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs which had hit the country, the work mainly of independent hackers.
Lithuania’s head of cybersecurity, Colonel Romualdas Petkevicius said that Russiα is “not ready to wage coordinated cyber and kinetic ᴡᴀʀ”. There are cyber activities everywhere in Ukrαine, “thousands of them,” he told AFP. “But I don’t think they are very well planned”. General Didier Tisseyre, head of France’s cyber defence force, made a similar observation about a disconnect between computer ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs and Russiα’s military offensive on the ground. “Maybe they didn’t manage to organise it the way they wanted to”, and their capacities “are not as strong as we imagine”, he said.
But the analysis of the conflict is complicated by the fact that independent hacker groups have entered the ʙᴀᴛᴛʟᴇ. The current conflict in cyberspace “is like a rugby world cup where all the teams are on the field without their distinctive jerseys. The public is on the field too, and you have to prevent tries from being scored”.