Ukraine secures 10k more Starlink receivers with EU help
More cash will still be needed to maintain service come spring, says Ukrainian deputy PM
Ukraine's hunger for Starlink service continues unabated, and several EU countries have stepped in to help the war-torn nation foot the bill for an additional 10,000 terminals set to be delivered in the coming months.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov said a contract has yet to be signed, but EU nations pledging assistance have resolved the financial issues Kyiv needed to maintain service for military and civilian use. Fedorov declined to name the countries providing funds.
"We have a lot of Starlinks, but the key point is we have got a nod for another shipment that will be used to stabilize connection for critical situations," Fedorov said, adding that Ukraine will still need to find additional funding to maintain its Starlink connections come spring.
Tussles between Ukrainian officials and SpaceX/Starlink/Tesla/Twitter CEO and Earth's second richest human Elon Musk began in October after it emerged that SpaceX had told the Pentagon it wasn't thrilled to continue paying for Starlink services in Ukraine.
After some blowback, Musk "capitulated" and said his company would "just keep funding Ukraine govt for free." It's unclear whether that overture has since been withdrawn, though Fedorov continued to say SpaceX and Musk had been helpful and were understanding of the situation.
"Musk assured us he will continue to support Ukraine. When we had a powerful blackout, I messaged him on that day and he momentarily reacted and has already delivered some steps," Fedorov said.
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Russia is watching
Not long after Musk and Kyiv's spats over Starlink service, Russia said that it was considering classifying commercial space systems like Starlink as legitimate military targets if they continued to be used by Russia's other military targets.
Russia's deputy head of its UN delegation was specifically warning that Moscow could attack Starlink's actual satellites, but base stations don't appear out of the question. Fedorov told Bloomberg the new antennas were necessary "to help counter Russian air attacks," which are presumably taking Starlink antennas out and interrupting Ukrainian military operations.
Arms dealer claims it has Starlink terminal communication detection radar
That's if Russian forces don't first begin to deploy technology from Sestroretsk Arms, which has a product called "Borshchevik" it claims can locate Starlink terminals to within 5-60 meters at a range of up to 10 kilometers.
The company claims Borschchevik can be vehicle-mounted for frontline deployment and can simultaneously define the locations of up to 64 terminals. It's unclear if the technology is real or if it exists what stage of development it may be in. Sestroretsk Arms has an order form for the Borshchevik available on its site, but it doesn't make any mention of actual availability or delivery dates.
A post to a Russian paramilitary-affiliated Telegram channel claims the Borshchevik is in its final testing stages, which could spell trouble for Ukrainian forces that seem in no hurry to find a Starlink replacement. ®