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Musk forced to hand Starlink network over to military, Russian defense official says

According to advisor to the Russian defense minister Andrey Ilnitsky, the system provides the Ukrainian military with sufficiently high-quality communications

MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. US billionaire and celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk has been forced to hand over his Starlink satellite communications network to the military and, at the same time, continue financing it, Andrey Ilnitsky, an advisor to the Russian defense minister, said on Tuesday.

"Elon Musk, who owns the Starlink system and repeatedly stated that ‘he never will and doesn’t want to [turn it into a military communications channel],’ was nevertheless forced to hand it over to the military and keep financing it as well," Ilnitsky said in an interview with International Affairs magazine, commenting on Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. "The system provides them [the Ukrainian military] with sufficiently high-quality communications."

In June 2023, Bloomberg news agency reported that Musk-owned SpaceX had inked a contract with the Pentagon to provide satellite communications services to Ukraine with the use of Starlink terminals. The amount of the deal and the number of terminals to be sent to Ukraine were not disclosed at that time.

In late February 2022, Musk announced that he opened access to his Starlink global satellite communications system in Ukraine and sent the first terminals to the country. In mid-October Musk said that his company was unable to indefinitely finance Starlink's operations in Ukraine, but disclosed later that he would continue to fund the satellite communications system despite the financial losses it incurred.

Kiev announced in December 2022 that the Ukrainian authorities had received 22,000 Starlink terminals since February of that year and were expecting to receive 10,000 more.