Oct 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Elon Musk: SpaceX can't fund internet in Ukraine "indefinitely"

In this photo illustration a Twitter webpage of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone screen in front of Spacex website..

A Twitter webpage of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone screen in front of Spacex website. Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Elon Musk said Friday that his company SpaceX can't "indefinitely" fund critical internet service in Ukraine through Starlink terminals.

Why it matters: The terminals have provided internet service for Ukraine's military and government officials, even as Russia's invasion has ravaged the country's infrastructure.

Driving the news: Musk said in a tweet Friday that SpaceX “is not asking to recoup past expenses” for the Starlink program.

  • But the company can’t “fund the existing system indefinitely” while also providing more terminals, he said, adding that the Starlink terminals have a data usage "100x greater than typical households."
  • “This is unreasonable,” Musk tweeted.

Catch up quick: CNN reports that SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month that said the company can’t fund the Starlink service to the degree it has been.

  • In the letter, SpaceX reportedly asked for the Pentagon to handle the funding for the government and military use of Starlink moving forward, per CNN.
  • SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote in the letter that the company is “not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time," according to CNN.

What they’re saying: A Department of Defense spokesman told Axios that "the department continues to work with industry to explore solutions for Ukraine’s armed forces as they repel Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression. We do not have anything else to add at this time."

Between the lines: Musk recently suggested a peace plan between Ukraine and Russia on Twitter, which called on Ukraine to accept territorial losses and become neutral as a way to appease Putin.

  • “F–k off is my very diplomatic reply to you,” Ukraine ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk wrote on Twitter in response to Musk's unsolicited advice.
  • When a journalist suggested Musk’s SpaceX comments come days after Melnyk’s response, Musk replied, “We’re just following his recommendation” with a shrugging emoji.

Go deeper: Zelensky thanks Elon Musk for sending Starlink satellites to Ukraine

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