Elon Musk seems to have backed down from his earlier plea to have the Pentagon pay for Starlink connectivity in Ukraine, and will continue to fund the internet satellites being used by the war-torn country.
On Saturday, Musk sent out a seemingly frustrated tweet saying, “The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
SpaceX had reportedly asked the Pentagon to pay roughly $120 million for Ukraine’s use of its Starlink satellites for the rest of the year. The company also wanted the U.S. government to step in and pay about $400 million for next year, according to documents obtained by CNN. “We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales, Bryon Hargis, wrote in a letter to the Pentagon in September, according to CNN.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, SpaceX sent around 20,000 Starlink terminals to Kyiv to provide online access to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. The world’s richest man has boasted about his company’s efforts to help keep Ukraine connected. However, 85% of the Starlink terminals sent to Ukraine were already fully or partially funded by government sources, according to the documents obtained by CNN.
Earlier this month, Musk claimed on Twitter that the Starlink operation in Ukraine “has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year.” In July, Ukraine’s General Valerii Zaluzhniy requested almost 8,000 new Starlink terminals but SpaceX expressed concern about being able to provide what was requested, according to the documents seen by CNN.
Musk has also come under fire recently for suggesting a peace plan in which Ukraine accepts Russia’s claim over some of its territory in order to end the war. The suggestion prompted Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, to tell Musk to “fuck off.” In response to the claims made regarding SpaceX no longer wanting to pay for Starlink terminals in Ukraine, Musk tweeted, “We’re just following [Melnyk’s] recommendation.”
It’s not clear what happened to cause Musk to backtrack on his alleged request to have the government pay for Starlink terminals in Ukraine, but the billionaire finished off his passive aggressive rant on Twitter by pivoting to a philanthropist persona. In response to a comment that read, “No good deed goes unpunished,” Musk wrote, “Even so, we should still do good deeds.”