Ukraine restricts satellite internet use for Elon Musk’s SpaceX drones

SpaceX has moved to limit the Ukrainian military’s use of its satellite internet service, particularly used to control drones, as Kyiv battles a full-scale invasion by Russia, the company’s president said Wednesday.

The US space agency, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been providing internet to Ukraine through its Starlink satellite system since last February.

SpaceX President Gwen Shotwell said at an event in Washington DC on Wednesday that the service used by Ukraine’s military to control drones was “not intended to be weaponized,” according to Reuters.

“The Ukrainians have used it in a way that is unintended and not part of any agreement,” he added.

SpaceX has taken steps to limit the Ukrainian military’s ability to use the Internet to control drones, Shotwell said, without elaborating on what the concrete measures were.

Just days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which brought an array of cyber attacks against the country’s infrastructure, SpaceX moved to connect Ukraine to its satellite Internet network, allowing online access without the need for fiber cables.

But Musk raised concerns among Kyiv and Western allies last October when he tweeted a series of Kremlin talking points, presenting them as a peace plan. Later in October, Musk also said he was no longer willing to pay for Ukraine’s Starlink Internet terminals, instead asking the US Department of Defense to take over.