SpaceX has restricted Ukraine's use of the Starlink satellite Internet service to control drones in its military operations against Russia, Voice of America reports.
SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said that Starlink, which provided the Ukrainian military with broadband communications to protect them from the Russians, was "never meant to be weaponized".
"However, Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were not part of any agreement," Shotwell said.
Speaking to journalists, she referred to reports that the Ukrainian military used the Starlink service to operate drones. Ukraine has effectively used unmanned aerial vehicles to spot enemy positions, target long-range fires, and drop bombs.
"There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that. There are things that we can do, and have done," Shotwell said.
She refused to specify what measures SpaceX has taken to do so.
The company's director emphasized that the use of Starlink to control drones goes beyond SpaceX's agreement with the Ukrainian government, adding that the contract is intended for humanitarian purposes, such as providing broadband Internet access to hospitals, financial institutions, and families affected by the Russian invasion.
"We know the military is using them for comms, and that's ok," she said. "But our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes."
SpaceX privately trucked Starlink terminals to Ukraine, allowing the Ukrainian military to communicate by plugging them in and linking them to nearly 4,000 satellites that SpaceX has launched into low-Earth orbit.
Governments, including the United States and France, have paid for other shipments of Starlink terminals on top of those funded privately by SpaceX.
Russia has attempted to jam Starlink signals in the region, though SpaceX countered by hardening the service's software, Elon Musk, the company's chief executive, has said.
Starlink had suffered services outages in Ukraine late last year, for reasons SpaceX did not explain.