A high-ranking Ukrainian official expressed concern about “manipulation” of information by Elon Musk

Elon Musk, pictured during the opening of the Tesla factory in March 2022, has become a key but controversial figure for Ukraine. (Christian Marquardt – Pool/Getty Images)

HALIFAX — Ukrainian officials love SpaceX Starlink A constellation that allowed the government and military to maintain Internet access even as Russia devastated critical infrastructure and disrupted other means of communication.

But mercurial behavior SpaceX founder Elon Musk raised questions about that Ukraine may depend on long-term access to Starlink, as well as whether misinformation about the war in Ukraine could become a “major trend” on Twitter, said Olga Stefanyshyn, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

“We have a Twitter guarantee Elon Musk that he is going to finance [Starlink]and he spoke to our minister of digital transformation, so we see it as a deal,” Stefanisina told reporters at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday.

Last month, Musk completed the acquisition of Twitter, and the social media app is becoming a “primary source of manipulation” under Musk, and Musk himself is “testing[ing] the limits of the manipulation he can use,” she said. “Given this huge range of instability in the position of CEO of SpaceX, from the willingness and unwillingness to continue financial support [of Starlink]we’re kind of making a contingency plan for ourselves.”

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Musk sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine in February, which he did praised the Pentagon and Ukrainian officials as key to keeping Ukraine online after the Russian invasion. Obtaining the technology was a “turning point” for Ukraine during the first three weeks of the war, when government officials relied on Starlink to maintain cell phone communications and restore internet services in villages where communications equipment had been “physically disabled” and destroyed, Stefanyshyn said. .

“Starlink was a beacon of life for Ukraine,” she said. “Our government was able to function because I had Starlink over my head.”

However, tracking of Starlink’s status in Ukraine — and Musk’s intentions to maintain access to it — became murky this fall after SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon saying it could no longer afford domestic funding for Ukraine’s Starlink terminals.

On October 15, Musk tweeted that SpaceX had withdrawn its funding request, even though paying for the Ukrainian terminals would cost the company more than $100 million by the end of the year. However, several outlets reported Starlink outages throughout October, including a report from CNN that 1,300 terminals lost access to Starlink even after Musk promised to continue funding Starlink.

Meanwhile, Musk, who is closing in on his acquisition of Twitter, drew the ire of Ukrainian officials after he tweeted a peace plan that would see Ukraine hand over Crimea to Russia. Musk’s offer prompted Andriy Melnyk, then Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, to tweet: “Hey, that’s my very diplomatic answer to you.”

At the moment, Ukrainian officials are in “direct contact” with SpaceX management, Stefanyshyn said. At the same time, Ukraine is now looking for alternatives to Starlink, other communication networks are already being purchased. These options are “not as complex” as Starlink, but ensure that the Ukrainian government can stay connected – even if Musk allows Starlink coverage to end in the future, she said.

“It’s really hard to say [definitively] if we are talking about the CEO of a private company,” said Stefanishyna. “This is G2B [government-to-business] format, but the ‘B’ is a little uncertain.” A high-ranking Ukrainian official expressed concern about “manipulation” of information by Elon Musk

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