The US billionaire has said his company would “keep funding” the Starlink satellite service in Ukraine
The SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made an abrupt U-turn on his decision to stop funding the operation of the Starlink satellite communication service in Ukraine, where it has been actively used by the Ukrainian troops. Earlier, SpaceX reportedly asked the Pentagon to cover the cost of the internet service in Ukraine, which could amount up to $ 400 million over the next year.
“We’ll just keep funding Ukraine government for free,” Musk wrote in a tweet on Saturday, adding that SpaceX would do it “even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting billions of taxpayer dollars.”
Earlier, the SpaceX CEO pointed to the fact that his “competitors in space launch and communications,” Lockheed Martin and Boeing, had jointly received over $60 billion in defense contracts in 2021 alone. The entrepreneur also complained in a series of tweets that keeping up “warfront” communications was difficult and expensive. He also stated that Russia was “actively trying to kill Starlink,” forcing the US company to spend some $20 million per month on safeguarding the services from cyberattacks and jamming.
On Thursday, CNN obtained a letter, where Musk supposedly informed the Pentagon his company was “not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.”
SpaceX has donated around 20,000 Starlink satellite units to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in late February, providing internet connection and military coordination in chaotic battlegrounds that would otherwise be cut off from the web.
Kiev then praised the terminals as an “essential part of critical infrastructure” but continued to urge SpaceX to send thousands of additional terminals. Musk previously stated that SpaceX would have spent more than $100 million providing Starlink services to Ukraine by the end of the year. At the same time, the company reportedly admitted that most units it had sent to Ukraine were partially or fully funded by the American, British and Polish governments.
SpaceX also recently came under fire over alleged Starlink outages across some regions of Ukraine, which some Ukrainian soldiers described as “catastrophic” loss of communications, according to Financial Times. The incidents also took place following a brief spat between Musk and the outspoken former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik.
The diplomat, who is known for his insults against the German officials, told Musk to “f**k off” after the billionaire suggested a peace plan for Ukraine that involved Kiev committing to neutrality and dropping its claim on Crimea. Musk then said he was simply following Melnik’s recommendation when withdrawing its Starlink funding in Ukraine.