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Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

'The hell with it': Elon Musk will fund Ukraine's Starlink after all

'The hell with it': Elon Musk will fund Ukraine's Starlink after all

The move followed a social-media backlash against his proposed halt to funding the service.
Elon Musk says SpaceX will continue to financially support its Starlink terminals in Ukraine after all.

The SpaceX founder and high-profile tech entrepreneur sent a letter to the Pentagon in September asking the agency to take over funding for the satellite communication system, which the company donated to Ukraine earlier this year after Russia’s invasion.

“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,” Musk tweeted Saturday following a social-media backlash against his proposed halt to funding the service.

Ukrainian leaders have praised Starlink as invaluable for aiding communications between military units and for the Kyiv-based government to maintain contact with commanders and the outside world. It is also widely used by Ukraine’s civilian population.

Ukraine has about 20,000 Starlink satellite units, according to SpaceX. Musk said last week that the “operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year,” although funding for the terminals comes from a variety of sources.

However, Musk has continued to needle his critics with his pronouncements, saying Friday he was “following the recommendation” of a Ukrainian diplomat who told the billionaire to “fuck off,” by proposing to shift funding responsibility for the terminals.

Musk this week announced he’d developed a plan for a ceasefire in Ukraine, reportedly following conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was widely mocked for following Russian talking points.

The Pentagon on Friday said it was speaking to other satellite communications companies following Musk’s moves.

“There’s not just SpaceX, there are other entities that we can certainly partner with when it comes to providing Ukraine with what they need on the battlefield,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said.
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