As the war continues between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainians are turning to the skies for their connection to the outside world.
Thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and SpaceX, more than 5,000 Starlink terminals have been delivered to the country, restoring Internet service.
Connecting Ukrainians to the outside world is a network of satellites made in Redmond, Washington. Thousands of Starlink satellites orbiting the Earth allow the country’s residents and leaders to bypass landlines and wi-fi networks severed in the war.
The public-private partnership has changed the face of the war itself. Starlink has disrupted Russian plans to shut down communications within the country and with the outside world. The periodic use of the terminals (to avoid location and targeting) has allowed the country’s citizens to communicate what is going on within Ukraine’s borders.
The total cost of Starlink aid is a bit unclear, but according to USAID, the terminals cost $1,500 apiece, and transportation was another $800,000. “Delivery of Starlink terminals was made possible by a range of stakeholders whose combined contributions valued over $15 million and facilitated the procurement, international flights, ground transportation and satellite Internet service of Starlink terminals,” said Rebecca Chalif, USAID spokesperson.
“We are using thousands of terminals with new shipments arriving every other day,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian digital transformation minister, using a Starlink connection from an undisclosed location.