Elon Musk announced on Saturday that his company would continue paying for Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine, a day after suggesting could not continue to finance the projectwhich he said was losing about $20 million a month.
“To hell with it,” tweeted the richest man in the world. “Even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are receiving billions of taxpayer dollars, we will continue to fund Ukraine rule for free.
Musk had said on Friday that he considered it unfair that SpaceX was not subsidized by the US military to operate Starlink in Ukraine, even as the company’s competitors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing have received “billions” for providing resources.
The US military confirmed it was communicating with the billionaire’s company about funding for the satellite Internet after CNN published memos sent by SpaceX to the Pentagon. “We are unable to donate additional terminals to Ukraine or fund existing terminals indefinitely,” SpaceX’s government sales director wrote, in a letter seen from the network.
Musk’s tweets came after a growing number of public squabbles with Ukrainian leaders, angered by his suggestions that the country pursue peace by acknowledging Russian sovereignty over Crimea, agreeing to a series of referendums allowing Russia to annex the territory and strive for “neutrality” in the future.
“I am trying my best to de-escalate this situation and obviously failing,” Musk said in response to a sympathetic tweet from Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who is currently fighting extradition to the United States on money laundering and wire fraud. In response to his suggestions of surrender, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told Musk: “Fuck you is my very diplomatic response to you… The only result is now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your fucking Tesla shit.So good luck to you.
But while Musk wryly suggested his subsidy request was in response to Melnyk’s message — tweeting “we’re just following your recommendation 🤷♂️” — the letters to the Pentagon were sent in September, well before his October speech. in the conflict.
Starlink, a constellation of more than 3,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit, has been vital to Ukraine’s communications as it fights against an invasion by Russia.
There are now about 25,000 land terminals in Ukraine, according to an updated figure provided by Musk last week. But some have complained that those donated by SpaceX they make up a small part of the Starlink terminals in use in the country, most of which are bought and paid for at market prices.
“I admire SpaceX’s actions in enabling the Starlink service in Ukraine. It is a real game-changer for the Ukrainian military in open fields without cellphones and long distances unsuitable for radios, as the situation is rapidly changing on the battlefield,” wrote Dimko Zhluktenko, founder of the Ukrainian military charity Dzyga’s Paw: “Despite this, I have not seen ANY Starlinks purchased by governments or SpaceX. All the Starlinks I have seen/used have either been purchased by volunteers like myself, or soldiers put their own money into them. Also the price of the subscription is paid out of pocket.
Ukrainian activist Melaniya Podolyak added that “thousands” of Ukrainians were paying Musk’s company monthly, sharing a screenshot of their bank account with more than £6,000 in outgoing payments to Starlink. “So the question is, have you really lost more money than you made?”