Musk Warns Starlink Makes Users In Ukraine A Target, Urges Dish Camouflage
Musk recently sent Twitter into a frenzy when he announced he would be activating Starlink internet service in Ukraine and sending a truck load of terminals to the war torn country. Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, posted a photo of the terminals in the back of a large truck on February 28th, confirming their arrival. A few days later, Musk took to Twitter once again to issue a warning to those using Starlink in Ukraine.
In one tweet, the SpaceX CEO stated that Starlink was "the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine." He advised those using the service to use with caution due to the high probability of it being targeted by the Russian military.
Musk followed up that tweet with another advising Ukrainians to "Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection" and "turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away from people as possible."
Once Musk said he would be sending terminals to Ukraine, it was only a matter of a couple days before they arrived. John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab project, tweeted, "...if #Putin controls the air above #Ukraine, users' uplink transmissions become beacons ... for airstrikes." He went on to say, "#Russia has decades of experience hitting people by targeting their satellite communications."
Elon did not stop with simply sending terminals and activating internet service for Ukraine. He also had his team update software to reduce peak power consumption, so Starlink could be powered by a car's cigarette lighter. This gave those using the service a way of being mobile and being able to better avoid detection.
Musk tweeted, "Mobile roaming enabled, so phased array antenna can maintain signal while on moving vehicle."
While the international community continues to issue sanctions against Russia, NATO recently denied Ukraine its request to impose a no-fly zone in the country. The issue with a no-fly zone is that it would have to be enforced by military power. This would require NATO forces to take action against any aircraft that flew into the no-fly zone, and could include shooting the plane out of the sky. This could be deemed by Russia as an act of war by NATO and would possibly escalate the situation.
In tweet from earlier today, Musk took a hardline stance when it came to blocking Russian news sources. He stated, "Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint." He continued, "Sorry to be a free speech absolutist."
It also seems that Musk has directed SpaceX to prioritize cyber defense and overcoming signal jamming. He stated that this "will cause slight delays in Starship & Starlink V2."
As the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen, aid from the likes of Musk and others are extremely important to the country and people of Ukraine. Hopefully the crisis will come to an end soon.