Elon Musk says SpaceX has withdrawn its request to the Pentagon to fund Starlink in Ukraine



CNN

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Monday afternoon that the company’s funding request to the Pentagon to raise its bill for satellite internet services for Ukraine has been withdrawn.

from Musk announcement on Twitter followed an exclusive CNN report that SpaceX made a request to the Pentagon in September saying they were no longer able to donate the critical Starlink terminals or support the expensive companion service “indefinitely.” SpaceX asked the Pentagon to start paying for service for the current terminals operated by the Ukrainian government and to fund nearly 8,000 new terminals and service for Ukraine’s military and intelligence agencies.

After the CNN report revealed the request and showed in more detail that SpaceX isn’t solely responsible for Starlink access in Ukraine (in fact, countless international efforts have funded much of it), Musk tweeted on Saturday: “To hell with it.. Even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies getting billions of taxpayers, we just continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free.”

Musk’s tweet on Monday went a little further, saying the move had been made to withdraw the request to the Department of Defense.

CNN has asked the Pentagon whether SpaceX has withdrawn its request for funding.

Two sources aware of the talks between SpaceX and the Pentagon told CNN that as of Friday, before Musk’s apparent face, the Pentagon had in fact agreed to SpaceX’s request to pay for ongoing service to the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian commander’s new request. general.

That funding request was $124 million for the remainder of 2022. It’s unclear what the final amount or terms agreed upon were.

“To be precise, 25,300 terminals have been sent to Ukraine, but right now only 10,630 are paying for service,” Musk said Monday.

SpaceX’s Sept. 8 letter to the Pentagon said that the company had paid for about 70% of its Ukrainian terminals’ internet service — estimated at a whopping $4,500 a month — but had only fully completed about 15% of its 20,000 terminals. funded. The rest was paid for by governments such as the US, UK and Poland, as well as private initiatives.

Monday, before Musk tweeted, a senior defense official told reporters that the Pentagon hadn’t paid SpaceX “at this point” for Starlink in Ukraine.

“It’s something we’re discussing with SpaceX in terms of possible support, but at this point, the DoD has not paid for the SpaceX services related to Starlink in Ukraine,” the official said.

Some European countries have expressed support for the funding of SpaceX’s Starlink in Ukraine, a European official told CNN.

The topic was discussed informally on Monday at the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, the official said.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Saturday that “Ukraine’s Internet connection is too important to be left to one private person”.

“Let’s find a way to form a coalition of Ukrainian allies to pay for Starlink, or let’s find an alternative supplier. Lithuania is ready to contribute,” he said in a tweet.

Musk has been criticized for pushing through a peace plan that many consider overtly pro-Russian, including officially giving Crimea to Russia.

On Monday, he continued to push his proposal, saying: “If Russia is faced with the choice of losing Crimea or using nuclear weapons, they will choose the latter.”

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