Elon Musk says he will continue funding Starlink satellite broadband in Ukraine, a day after indicating he could pull the plug
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has said he will continue funding Starlink operations in Ukraine, a day after saying he was prepared to pull the plug.
“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 wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Musk said Starlink’s Ukrainian project is losing $20 million (£18m) a month.
“In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations,” Musk tweeted.
“We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder.”
He had complained on Friday that competitors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing were receiving “billions” to provide resources to Ukraine.
CNN had earlier published letters from SpaceX to the US Department of Defense asking for subsidies.
“We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” wrote SpaceX’s director of government sales, according to CNN.
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
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 15, 2022
On Friday Musk confirmed the company’s position on Twitter, writing, “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely.”
Musk recently suggested that Ukraine could “de-escalate” the conflict by ceding Crimea to Russia and allowing Russia to carry out referendums in partially occupied areas in order to annex those territories.
Both statements drew strong criticism.
SpaceX has donated about 25,000 terminals to Ukraine, Musk said earlier this month.
The satellite-based broadband network has been vital to Ukrainian civilian and military communications in the midst of its conflict with Russia.
But some Ukraine activists said many or most of the Starlink terminals in use in Ukraine were operated by individuals at their own expense.
“I have not seen ANY Starlink which was bought by the governments, or by SpaceX,” wrote Dimko Zhluktenko, founder of Ukraine military charity Dzyga’s Paw. “All the Starlinks I have seen/used – were bought either by volunteers like myself, or soldiers put their personal money in. The subscription price is also paid out of pocket.”