Elon Musk’s SpaceX Says It Can No Longer Fund Ukraine’s Starlink Internet | Ukraine

Elon Musk’s SpaceX said it couldn’t afford to continue donating satellite internet to Ukraine and asked the US government to foot the bill, report says, as relationship between the billionaire and Kyiv breaks up.

“We are unable 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, an outside consultant working for the company told the Pentagon: “SpaceX is facing some terribly difficult decisions here. I don’t think they have the financial capacity to provide additional terminals or services.

Musk appeared to confirm this report on Friday morning, writing on Twitter that “Nothing was disclosed about our competitors in space launch and communications, Lockheed and Boeing, who get over $60 billion. [from the US Department of Defence]”.

In another post, he tweeted“In addition to terminals, we need to create, launch, maintain and replenish satellites and ground stations and pay telecom operators for Internet access through gateways. We also had to defend against cyberattacks and jamming, which are becoming increasingly difficult. Burn is approaching ~$20 million per month.

But the funding request comes after a large-scale intervention of Musk, who suggested that Ukraine should seek to end the war by ceding territory to Russia and pledging to remain “neutral”. His tweets prompted a furious backlash from the Ukrainian government, which had previously praised Musk for coming up with the Starlink system.

“Fuck off is my very diplomatic response to you,” tweeted Andrij Melnyk, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany. “The only result is that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your fucking Tesla bullshit. So good luck to you.

Responding to a suggestion that Musk was threatening to pull Starlink over Melnyk’s words, SpaceX chief executive tweeted this morning that “we’re just following his recommendation 🤷‍♂️”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Friday that Kyiv would find a solution to keep Starlink running. “Let’s be honest. Like it or not, @elonmusk helped us survive the most critical moments of the war,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Companies have the right to have their own strategies. Ukraine will find a solution to keep £Starlink running. We expect the company to provide a stable connection until the negotiations are completed. »

Ukrainian forces had already reported problems with Starlink coverage in recent days, after Musk’s attempted peace process but before the latest reports of a funding shortfall. Last week, the Financial Times reported a “catastrophic” loss of communication occurred as Ukrainian army soldiers advanced towards lands previously occupied by Russia, in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

The terminals, which connect to a fleet of low-Earth-orbit microsatellites launched by SpaceX to provide high-speed internet access to much of the world, have proven crucial to Ukraine’s war effort since they were donated by the company earlier this year. . In addition to enabling fast and secure communication between ground troops and headquarters, satellites also help the military operate drones that have proven essential in reshaping the rules of the battlefield.

Tuesday, Musk refused a report that he had spoken directly to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Ian Bremmer, chairman of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said: “Elon Musk told me he spoke directly with Putin and the Kremlin of Ukraine. He also told me what the lines were. Kremlin reds.

Musk tweeted in response, “No one should trust Bremmer.”

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