Musk hints at new opening for Starlink funding in Ukraine after previous threat

Elon Musk indicated on Saturday that he may continue to fund the Starlink satellite service, which provides internet for Ukraine and its military, raising the possibility that he might back down from his earlier threat to stop paying for the network.

Just a day ago, Musk said it was “irrational” to propose that his company, SpaceX, continue to expand, support and fund the data-intensive system “indefinitely”. His comment drew widespread condemnation, though Musk continued to plead behind the scenes for the Pentagon to shoulder the costs.

Returning to Twitter on Saturday, Musk did not provide any updates on these discussions with the Department of Defense – and neither the tech mogul nor the government responded to requests for comment. But Musk, the richest man in the world, recently dropped an open but snarky note about keeping Starlink funded anyway.

“Damn… even if Starlink continues to lose money and other companies receive billions of dollars from taxpayers, we will continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free,” he said. tweeted.

When a Silicon Valley investor later responded citing the aphorism that “no good deed goes unpunished”, Musk tweeted in response: “Nevertheless, we must still do good deeds.”

Putin and China’s musky appeasement stokes fears of new policy on Twitter

The switch marked the latest twist in a messy geopolitical saga that has played out at Twitter, the same company that Musk is hoping to buy again. For Ukraine, the stakes are incredibly high: the satellite service offered by Starlink is now the main means of online communication in the country, a consequence of Russia’s continued attack on Ukraine’s online infrastructure. A satellite outage could cripple the Ukrainian military and give the Kremlin a huge advantage.

Musk, for his part, has increasingly entered the conflict publicly. Earlier this month, the billionaire unveiled what he described as a peace plan that critics saw as too pro-Russian, drawing the ire of Ukrainian political leaders including President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Andrij Melnyk, the country’s ambassador to Germany, then responded to Musk’s proposal in more explicit terms: “F—off is my very diplomatic response to you,” he said. tweeted.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said on October 14 that SpaceX has asked the Pentagon to help fund the crucial communications network in Ukraine. (Video: Reuters)

With tensions high, Musk tweeted his concerns on Friday about the pricing of the Starlink service. he already said that it has cost SpaceX about $80 million so far to beam internet via satellite into the war-torn country, a sum that could reach $100 million by the end of the year as the company expands its presence and protects its infrastructure against further Russian incursions.

In doing so, Musk also fought back – again, on the social networks — to Melnyk: “We’re just following his recommendation,” he tweeted.

Behind the scenes, Defense Department officials said they were in active talks with Musk.

Musk threatens to stop funding Starlink Internet, which Ukraine relies on during the war

on the sustainability of the system. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh also told reporters that the US government has other options in the event of an outage.

The Biden administration played an unclear role in orchestrating the deal, as documents previously obtained by The Washington Post suggest that another part of the government — the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID — may have helped pay for some of the Starlink terminals. . deployed in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a Zelensky adviser said on Friday that Starlink “helped us survive the most critical moments of the war”. The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, added that Ukraine would “find a solution for Starlink to continue operating”, although the government hopes that Starlink “will provide a stable connection until negotiations are completed”.

Isabelle Khurshudyan, Kostiantyn Khudov, Dan Lamothe, and Ellen Francis contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment