Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk announced late on Friday night that the Starlink terminals he sent to Ukraine will not censor Russian media organizations, despite pressure from some governments.
“Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources,” Musk tweeted. “We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint.
Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2022
Musk said last week that SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was now available in Ukraine with more terminals en route to the country following a request from Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, who tweeted: “@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”
Ukraine’s official Twitter account highlighted the tweet, writing: “Dear @elonmusk, Ukraine needs your support. Your stance and your actions matter. An appeal by our Minister of Digital Transformation here.”
“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine,” Musk responded. “More terminals en route.”
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
The country quickly received the terminals, according to Fedorov, who tweeted out a photograph of the products.
You are most welcome
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2022
After the terminals were received by Ukraine, Musk issued a warning, saying that users needed to be careful because the Russians would target the terminals.
“Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high,” Musk tweeted. “Please use with caution.”
“Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away [sic] as far away from people as possible,” Musk advised. “Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection.”
“Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company says. “Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.”
“Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable,” the company added. “People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters.”
Musk also made news on Friday after he called for the U.S. to increase domestic energy production despite the fact that it would negatively impact his other company, Tesla.
“Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” Musk tweeted. “Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports.”
Musk’s tweet comes as energy prices have been a problem under Democrat President Joe Biden, and there has been widespread support to cut U.S. imports of Russian oil in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
“A broad bipartisan majority of Americans think the United States should stop buying Russian oil,” Reuters reported. “Some 80% of Americans – including solid majorities of Republicans and Democrats – support the measure.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. imported approximately 672,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia and that during Biden’s first year in office “U.S. imports of Russian crude hit the highest levels in about a decade.”