304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX, abruptly reversed his decision on Saturday, saying his company would continue to fund the Starlink Internet service in Ukraine, where it has become a digital lifeline for soldiers and civilians alike.
Musk, the world’s richest man, drew criticism on Friday when he said on Twitter that his company could not “indefinitely” fund Ukraine’s use of Starlink. The service has been key to the communications of the Ukrainian military, which is advancing into Russian-occupied territory and defending itself against ongoing Russian attacks.
CNN reported that SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month asking it to take over funding for Ukraine’s use of Starlink, which is built and operated by SpaceX.
But on Saturday, Musk reversed course and re-posted his decision on Twitter.
“To hell with it,” he wrote. He added that “even though Starlink is still losing money” and “other companies are getting billions” in taxes, “we’re just going to continue to fund” the Ukrainian government for free.
Musk helped give Ukraine access to the service after Russia invaded in late February. About 20,000 Starlink terminals, designed to work with satellites orbiting in space and provide online access, have been delivered to Ukraine.
It is not entirely clear who pays for the service. A document obtained by The New York Times showed that as of September, the Starlink terminals were partially funded by three Western governments: the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland.
The document showed that while SpaceX has donated about 3,000 terminals to Ukraine, other governments and allies have provided funds for nearly 17,000. Musk has previously said that SpaceX foots the monthly bill for the service that is streamed to the terminals.
Earlier this month, Musk said the Ukraine operation cost SpaceX $80 million. He added on Friday that the “burn fee” for the project, which refers to the money spent by SpaceX, was about $20 million a month.
As of July, the Ukrainian military was using about 4,000 mobile terminals. That month, the military requested an additional 6,700 from SpaceX, but has yet to receive them.
Musk’s Starlink comments came a week after he drew a furious rebuke from Ukrainian officials for proposing a peace plan — which included ceding territory to Russia — to end the war.