Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk said Friday that SpaceX cannot “indefinitely” fund the Starlink internet service in Ukraine, after a report said his rocket company had asked the Pentagon to cover the costs of the service that have helped Ukrainian forces with battlefield communications.
Musk made the remarks in a post on Twitter as part of a thread that linked to a CNN report claiming that SpaceX had sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting it take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink.
“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households,” Musk said in the post. “This is unreasonable.”
The letter cited by CNN claimed that SpaceX told the Pentagon that it could not continue bearing the cost of supplying the Starlink service in Ukraine, which reportedly would be almost $400 million for the next 12 months.
SpaceX has not returned a request from The Epoch Times for confirmation of the contents of the reported letter to the Pentagon.
The rocket company has so far donated around 20,000 Starlink units to Ukraine, with Musk saying in an earlier post on Twitter that the move has cost SpaceX $80 million so far and would climb to over $100 million by the end of the year.
In citing the Starlink costs, Musk was responding to a report from the Financial Times that claimed Ukrainian forces had reported Starlink outages during their military counteroffensive against Russia, hampering their efforts to retake territory captured by Russian forces.
“Bad reporting by FT,” Musk said, referring to the article’s claims that Starlink terminals and service had been paid for, adding that “only a small percentage have been.”
“As for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified,” Musk added.
Starlink in Ukraine
Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Musk announced that the Starlink satellite broadband internet service was being provided to Ukrainians.
While Starlink delivered an information lifeline to darkened swaths of the war-torn country, it also served as a link to enable Ukrainian military drones to target Russian tanks and positions more effectively.
A Ukrainian soldier identified as Dima, whose last name was withheld for security reasons, told journalist David Patrikarakos that “Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire.”
While it’s unclear how crucial Starlink has been to Ukraine’s military efforts, a report in the British news outlet The Telegraph suggested Musk’s technology was helping Ukraine “win the drone war.”
Shortly after Musk’s announcement regarding supplying Ukraine with Starlink, Dmitry Rogozin, then head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, issued a strongly worded statement criticizing Musk for providing the communications service that was being put to battlefield use by Ukrainian forces.
“This is the West that we should never trust. When Russia implements its highest national interests on the territory of Ukraine, Elon Musk appears with his Starlink which was previously declared as purely civilian,” Rogozin said.
“I warned about it, but our ‘muskophiles’ said he is the light of world cosmonautics. Here, look, he has chosen the side.”
Musk later suggested Rogozin had issued a veiled threat against his life over the Starlink service to Ukraine.
“If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya,” Musk said in a Twitter post, commenting on Rogozin’s message to Russian media, in which the former Roscosmos chief said Musk “will be held accountable like an adult—no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”
Musk recently suggested a peace plan for the Russia–Ukraine conflict, including formalizing Russian control over Crimea, setting off a torrent of critical reactions.
Ukraine’s outgoing Ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, condemned Musk’s proposal in harsh terms, saying on Twitter: “[expletive] off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk.”
Musk reacted to Melnyk’s remark while responding to a post by Kyiv Post correspondent Jason Smart, who cited Melnyk’s comment, called Starlink a “game changer in the war,” and said SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to start paying for the service.
“We’re just following his recommendation,” Musk said in the post, referring to Melnyk’s expletive-laden remark.
From The Epoch Times