LISBON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Ukraine trusts Elon Musk to continue providing internet access through his rocket company SpaceX’s Starlink satellite system despite a wobble last month, but is also looking at other providers, a said one of his deputy prime ministers on Thursday.
Mykhailo Fedorov, in Portugal for Europe’s biggest tech conference, the Lisbon Web Summit, said Ukraine had discussed Starlink directly with Musk and was confident the Tesla and Twitter boss wouldn’t shut down the service in Ukraine.
Starlink has “worked, is working and will definitely work in Ukraine,” Federov, who heads Ukraine’s digital transformation ministry, said at a news conference in response to a question about the Reuters service.
“Elon Musk spoke about it publicly and we had a conversation with him about it, so we don’t see a problem with that,” Fedorov said.
SpaceX activated Starlink over Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February and has since provided Kyiv with thousands of terminals, allowing Ukrainians to connect to the internet in places beyond the reach of the national telecommunications system. The links are used by both civilians and the Ukrainian army.
Last month, Musk tweeted that SpaceX could no longer afford to provide the service to Ukraine indefinitely – only to backtrack two days later and say it would continue to do so as an example of “good deeds.” “.
Around the same time, some Ukrainians complained of internet service outages near frontlines, while Musk also angered Ukrainian officials by promoting a peace plan under which Ukraine would cede territory. to Russia.
Fedorov said the Russian attacks that destroyed 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in October heightened the importance of maintaining communications systems.
“One of the reasons I came to Web Summit is also to seek out new partners and to continue to develop and engage with new partners,” he said.
“Communication is really crucial,” he said. “We are working on this problem around the clock. Russia is hitting energy infrastructure and sometimes we don’t have lights in our homes for eight hours.”
Fedorov spoke at a joint press conference with Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith, who announced about $100 million in additional technology assistance for Ukraine through 2023.
“This will allow the government and other Ukrainian organizations to continue to manage their services and serve Ukrainian citizens through the Microsft Cloud and our public data centers located across Europe,” Smith said.
Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira in Lisbon; Edited by
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.