Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Elon Musk after the billionaire assured him during a video call on Saturday that SpaceX will provide more Starlink satellite stations to some of the country’s destroyed cities.
The president of the embattled country took to Twitter to thank Musk, 50, for the support, after inviting the tech mogul to visit Ukraine once the war is over.
‘Talked to @elonmusk. I’m grateful to him for supporting Ukraine with words and deeds. Next week we will receive another batch of Starlink systems for destroyed cities,’ Zelensky wrote on the social media platform.
Musk sent a collection of antennas to Ukraine last week after Prime minister Denys Shmyhal voiced concerns that Ukrainians could lose internet access if Russia continues to attack communications towers, as it did with the bombing of a Kyiv TV tower.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to thank Musk, 50, for the support, after inviting the tech mogul to visit Ukraine once the war is over
Musk sent a collection of antennas to Ukraine last week after the prime minister voiced concerns that Ukrainians could lose internet access if Russia continues to attack communications towers,
Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fodorov had previously called out Musk on Twitter, asking him to send Starlink stations to Ukraine.
On February 26, Fodorov 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.’
The satellites have proved fundamental in helping citizens and leaders communicate as the Kremlin continues its large-scale attacks in cities across Ukraine.
Fodorov, Ukraine’s younger minister at 31, thanked Musk on the platform. ‘Starlink – here. Thanks @elonmusk,’ he wrote.
However, Musk has said he would not block Russia state media – like Russia Today, which laid off all its US staff on Friday – because he’s not ‘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,’ he tweeted on Saturday.
When a commenter questioned Musk’s position and referred to Russian media as ‘propaganda resources,’ the Tesla founder was undeterred, replying: ‘All news sources are partially propaganda, some more than others.’
Musk has claimed that in some parts of Ukraine, Starlink is the only ‘non-Russian’ connection available. Above, during a video call wit President Zelensky on Saturday
Elon Musk called himself a free speech absolutist’ on Saturday after stating he would not block Russian state media from Starlink internet satellites in Ukraine because ‘all news sources are partially propaganda’
Musk issued an ‘important warning’ on Thursday, stating that in ‘some parts of Ukraine’ Starlink satellites were only ‘non-Russian communications system still working’ and could be targeted for attacks.
‘Please use with caution,’ he tweeted.
He also stated that SpaceX would ‘reprioritize’ signal jamming and up cyber defense and told Ukrainians to ‘hold strong’ and have his ‘sympathies to the great people of Russia, who do not want this.’
Despite Putin’s attempts to disconnect Ukrainians from the internet, Russia has threatened its own independent journalists with jail time if they report ‘fake’ news about the war.
A man ran from a burning home on Friday in Irpin, right outside of Kyiv as Russian forces continue toward the capital
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has escalated his rhetoric in his confrontation with the West, saying that sanctions against Russia are tantamount to a declaration of war and threatening to treat any country that declares a no-fly zone over Ukraine as part of the conflict
Ukrainian soldiers with shoulder-fired missiles look on people evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday
In the US, stated-back media outlet Russia Today laid off all of its staff, effectively shutting down amid backlash over the war in Ukraine.
‘Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations,’ General Manager Misha Solodovnikov wrote. ‘We deeply regret and understand the uncertainty this action will cause our valued employees.’
RT America has been sidelined in the US and most of Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The network, seen as one of Putin’s main mouthpieces in the US, had referred to the unprovoked invasion as a ‘minor incursion intended for defensive purposes.’
Their stance quickly drew backlash and some of RT’s own staff publicly resigned, and multiple television providers, streaming tech service Roku and social media outlets severed ties with the network.
Satellite TV company DirecTV recently announced it would be pulling the plug on the channel on March 1, ahead of a contract that was going to expire later this year.
‘In line with our previous agreement with RT America, we are accelerating this year’s contract expiration timeline and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,’ a spokesperson said.
Dish, which also carries the network, did not comment on its relationship with the Kremlin-backed channel. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT has sister stations across the globe, including United Kingdom and France, which have also been recently booted off-air.
YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook parent company Meta have also banned RT content on their platforms in Europe, with Meta executive Nick Clegg hinting that a decision was made in relation to ‘the exceptional nature of the current situation’ in Ukraine.
RT’s app will no longer be available on Microsoft and Apple app stores in all countries except for Russia.
Last week, Must told Ukrainians to ‘hold strong’ and sympathized with Russians ‘who do not want this.’ He also issued a stark warning that Starlink satellites could become a target
Spotify and Roku have also removed RT-linked podcasts from its platform.
PayPal also announced it would shut down its services in Russia citing its attack on Ukraine.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has escalated his rhetoric in his confrontation with the West, saying that sanctions against Russia are tantamount to a declaration of war and threatening to treat any country that declares a no-fly zone over Ukraine as part of the conflict.
The threats came as Moscow’s brutal assault on Ukraine saw a mass civilian evacuation from the city of Mariupol derailed when Russian forces ignored a promised humanitarian ceasefire and continued shelling the southern city.
Heartbreaking footage, taken in Irpin, located on the outskirts of the besieged capital city Kyiv, confirmed that Russian forces are attacking heavily populated civilian areas where men, women and children are leaving the country as the Russian tyrant continues denying bombing Ukrainian cities.
One image depicted a mother and her two children lying dead on the pavement after they were killed in Irpin as they tried to flee the city, whilst their father was wounded by a mortar shell as hundreds of civilians sought safety.
It comes as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken today said there are ‘very credible reports’ that Russia has committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine – particularly in attacking civilians.
Russian troops continued to bombard encircled cities and the number of Ukrainians forced from their country grew to 1.4 million. The UN says more than 350 civilians have been killed since Russia’s invasion on February 24.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his plea for NATO to establish a no-fly zone in a meeting with the US Congress – but the idea faces strong bipartisan opposition in America, and NATO leaders have rejected it, pointing out that it would draw the alliance into direct military confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia.
A no-fly zone could only be enforced by shooting down Russian aircraft, and Putin on Saturday made clear that he would view such a move as joining the conflict.
‘We’ll instantly view them as participants in a military conflict,’ the Russian leader told a group of female employees of Russian airlines, according to Russian state media. ‘We’ll view any movement in this direction as involvement in an armed conflict by the country from whose territory threats to our military service members are posed.’
At the same meeting, Putin issued bellicose threats in response to the punishing economic sanctions leveled against his country by the US and Europe.
‘These sanctions that are being imposed are like the declaration of war,’ said Putin. ‘A lot of what is happening now, of what we now see and what we face is undoubtedly a means of fighting against Russia.’
Despite Putin’s saber-rattling, bipartisan members of Congress expressed support for ratcheting up sanctions and increasing lethal military aid to Ukraine after speaking with Zelensky on Saturday morning.
In his Zoom meeting with Congress, Zelensky repeated his plea for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country to blunt Russian air superiority, according to sources familiar with the matter.
However, the Biden administration and lawmakers from both parties have expressed strong opposition to the idea of a no-fly zone, because enforcing it would require shooting down Russian planes, drawing NATO into direct conflict with Russia.
A factory and a store are burning after been bombarded in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022
Ukrainian servicemen try to help people who have been wounded in Irpin – as an increasingly delusional Putin is insisting that Russia is not bombing Ukrainian cities, despite mounting fears that 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after a cluster bomb attack on the city of Chernihiv killed 49 last week
A Ukrainian soldier walks past the corpses of a family lying on the ground after shelling by the Russian army at the evacuation point of Irpin, several members of the same family have been killed in this attack while trying to flee
A person, who was trying to flee with his family, lies on the ground after the shelling of the Russian army at the evacuation point of Irpin, several members of the same family have been killed in this attack today
A wife says her goodbyes to her husband who is a member of the Territorial Defense as she evacuates Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday
Some 400,000 residents were hoped to be evacuated from 12pm today, with an initial agreement in place until 9pm, but residents are now having to take cover in bomb shelters without electricity and water.
It followed similar attempts on Saturday when plans to evacuate refugees were halted when shelling recommenced 45 minutes into a ceasefire.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said: ‘Amid devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol, a second attempt today to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city came to a halt.
‘The failed attempts yesterday and today underscore the absence of a detailed and functioning agreement between the parties to the conflict.’
However, in a telephone call with French President Emmanual Macron, Putin blamed Kyiv for the failed evacuations.
Putin instead claimed ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ prevented civilians and foreign citizens from leaving the port city and neighbouring Volnovakha.
But Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky today warned that Russian forces are preparing to shell Odessa – a historic port city on the Black Sea coast.
In a video address, the Ukrainian leader said: ‘They are preparing to bomb Odessa.
‘Russians have always come to Odessa. They have always felt only warmth in Odessa. Only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa? Artillery against Odessa? Missiles against Odessa?
‘It will be a war crime. It will be a historical crime.’
Almost a million people live in Odessa, a cosmopolitan harbor on Ukraine’s southern coast with both Ukrainian and Russian speakers and Bulgarian and Jewish minorities.
Analysts have previously said that taking Odessa would be a huge strategic victory and would give Russia a chokehold on Ukraine’s economy.
Russia has made progress in southern Ukraine since its invasion 11 days ago, overrunning the city of Kherson and shelling the port of Mariupol, but Odessa has so far been largely spared.