Elon Musk’s SpaceX has said it cannot continue donating satellite internet to Ukraine and has reportedly asked the US government to foot the bill as relations between the billionaire and Kyiv fray.
“We are not in a position to donate more terminals to Ukraine or fund existing terminals indefinitely,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote in a letter seen by CNN.
In a separate letter reported by CNN, a foreign adviser who worked for the company told the Pentagon: “SpaceX faces some very difficult decisions here. “I don’t think they can afford to provide additional terminals or services.”
Musk appeared to confirm the report Friday morning, tweeting: “Nothing about our space launch and communications competitors, Lockheed and Boeing receiving over $60 billion [from the US Department of Defense]. It has not been revealed.”
In another post on Twitter, he wrote: “In addition to terminals, we need to build, launch, maintain and complete satellites and ground stations, and pay telecoms for access to the Internet through gateways.” We also had to defend against cyberattacks and jammers, which are becoming more difficult. Burn is approaching $20 million per month.
But the bailout comes after a high-profile intervention by Musk, who suggested Ukraine should seek to end the war by ceding territory to Russia and pledging to remain “neutral.” His tweets drew an angry response from the Ukrainian government, which had previously praised Musk for delivering the Starlink system.
Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, tweeted: “Damn you is my very diplomatic answer to you. The only result is that now no Ukrainian will ever buy your Tesla crap. So good luck to you.”
Responding to a suggestion that Musk was threatening Starlink because of Melnyk’s words, the SpaceX CEO tweeted this morning: “We’re just taking his advice.
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said on Friday that Kyiv would find a solution to continue Starlink. “Let’s be honest. Like it or not, @elonmusk helped us survive the most critical moments of the war.” “Business has the right to have its own strategies. Ukraine will find a solution for Starlink to continue working. We expect the company to maintain stable communication until the end of the negotiations.”
Ukrainian forces have already reported problems with Starlink coverage in recent days, following Musk’s push for a peace process, but before the latest reports of a funding shortfall. Last week, the Financial Times reported that there was a “catastrophic” loss of communication as Ukrainian army troops pushed into territory previously occupied by Russia in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The terminals, which connect to a fleet of low-Earth-orbiting microsatellites operated by SpaceX to provide high-speed Internet access around the world, have been critical to Ukraine’s war effort since they were donated by the company earlier this year. . In addition to enabling fast and secure communication between forces on the ground and headquarters, these satellites help the military deploy drones that play an essential role in changing the rules of the battlefield.
On Tuesday, Musk denied a report that he had spoken directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Elon Musk told me he spoke directly with Putin and the Kremlin about Ukraine,” said Ian Bremer, president of the Eurasia Political Risk Advisory Group. He also told me what the Kremlin’s red lines were.”
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