Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov has announced that over 10,000 additional Starlink terminals will be sent to Ukraine in the coming months, confirming that issues regarding how to fund the country’s critical satellite internet service have been resolved.
The governments of several European Union countries are ready to share payment said Fedorov (who is also Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation) in an interview with Bloomberg, affirming that “As of now all financial issues have been resolved.” Fedorov did not publicly identify which governments are contributing towards the payments but confirmed that there’s currently no contract in place and that Ukraine will need to find additional funding by spring 2023.
“We are ready to live without electricity for a month with at least mobile network and text messages being available,” Fedorov said, alluding to Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. “Regarding internet, we have a lot of Starlinks, but the key point is we have got a nod for another shipment that will be used to stabilize connection for critical situations.”
Ukraine has received about 22,000 Starlink antennas since the country was invaded by Russia in February according to Fedorov. Support for the Starlink satellite-based internet service was enabled in Ukraine following a direct request to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on February 24th to rapidly restore communications lost in Russian air attacks in areas where mobile networks are unavailable. “There is no alternative to satellite connections,” Fedorov said.
“SpaceX and Musk quickly react to problems and help us,” said Fedorov. “Musk assured us he will continue to support Ukraine. When we had a powerful blackout, I messaged him on that day and he momentarily reacted and has already delivered some steps. He understands the situation.”
Musk initially agreed that SpaceX would keep funding the Starlink terminals back in October after requests that the U.S. government pay for existing internet services and additional terminals sent to Ukraine fell flat. Musk later added on Twitter that Starlink was losing about $20 million a month to maintain services in Ukraine and that the company couldn’t fund support “indefinitely.” Since then, SpaceX has announced Starshield — a new government-focused service providing a secured satellite network, and increased the price of Starlink satellite terminals and services in Ukraine after an initial discount in August to “reflect local market conditions.”