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Musk’s SpaceX to Keep Funding Ukraine’s Starlink Internet

Starlink Mission
Credit-Official-SpaceX-Photos-CC0-1.0-Wikimedia-Commons Credit: Official SpaceX Photos CC0-1.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk changed his mind a day after he announced that his rocket firm SpaceX could no longer fund Starlink internet service in Ukraine.

Mr. Musk tweeted 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.”

Ukraine’s energy installations were among the facilities targeted last week by more than a hundred Russian missiles. Starlink consists of thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit and ground terminals.

Starlink Internet vital for Ukraine

Starlink. Credit: Botnet.CC-BY-SA-4.0/Wikimedia

Ukraine says Starlink Internet has been vital for Ukraine’s military and people to stay online. In particular, it helped to reboot key infrastructure after the Russian attacks.

Last week, however, Musk asked the U.S. Pentagon to assume responsibility for the Ukrainian government as well as Spacelink.

According to Mr. Musk, the Starlink program is anticipated to cost twenty million dollars (£18m) per month to maintain. He recently said SpaceX had spent eighty million dollars so far to keep Ukraine online.

By his estimates, that means that it will require a budget of $120 million by the end of the year. In total, with the funds the company has already spent, that would add up to almost four hundred million dollars.

It was for this reason that he warned the Pentagon that SpaceX would stop funding the service unless it paid tens of millions of dollars per month. On Twitter, Musk wrote, “In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain [and] replenish satellites & ground stations.”

“We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks [and] jamming, which are getting harder,” Elon Musk wrote.

Yet, on Friday, he tweeted: “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely.”

Musk received as much criticism as he did support for the tweet. Hence, it seems, his second tweet was in regret of his former words. He emphasized he would continue funding Starlink in Ukraine for free.

Ukraine’s Vice-Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, downplayed tensions with Musk, writing on Twitter that the billionaire “is among the world’s top private donors supporting Ukraine.”

“Starlink is an essential element of our critical infrastructure,” he added.

Elon Musk proposed Ukraine accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea

On Twitter, earlier this month, Musk tweeted a proposal asking Ukraine to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Furthermore, it suggested they allow, under UN supervision, referendums in Ukrainian regions invaded by Moscow.

Musk’s proposal attracted the attention of the Kremlin, which responded positively to the overture. On the other hand, Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s outgoing ambassador to Germany, posted a tweet telling Musk to go away, using a swear word.

The Kremlin recently declared four more Ukrainian regions to be part of Russia following the so-called referendums denounced as fraudulent by Kyiv and its Western allies. Yet, at this moment, Russia does not fully control any of the four regions it declared authority over in the referendums.

Musk has also suggested the world formally recognize Crimea—illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014—as part of Russia. Last week, the CEO and owner of Tesla denied he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin before releasing his Twitter poll.

He tweeted, “I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space.”

Musk’s statement came after a think tank researcher claimed he had personally told Vladimir Putin about the alleged conversation.

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