Sunday 16 October 2022

‘The Hell With It’: Elon Musk Reverses Course On Starlink Decision In Ukraine

 SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk reversed course Saturday on continuing to provide Ukraine with free Starlink satellite services in their war against invading Russian forces.

Musk said Friday that he had decided to follow the “recommendation” of a Ukrainian diplomat who told him to “f*** off,” which came in response to Musk proposing a peace deal to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, by saying that SpaceX would no longer fund its Starlink satellite internet terminals in Ukraine for free.

Musk’s statement Friday triggered enormous backlash among pro-Ukraine activists, who called for taking action against the billionaire entrepreneur. Musk has previously stated that SpaceX’s deployment of the satellites to Ukraine has cost the company “$80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.”

“The hell with it,” Musk said, “even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”

Musk provided Ukraine with the Starlink terminals shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, and they made an immediate difference on the battlefield, allowing Ukraine’s military to communicate and stay connected despite Russia destroying a lot of its communications infrastructure.

CNN reported Thursday that the charitable contributions are likely coming to end as the company warned the Department of Defense that it needs to start paying tens of millions of dollars per month to keep the terminals up and running.

The report said that a September letter from SpaceX asked the Pentagon to pay for Ukraine’s government to continue using the system, which would cost “more than $120 million for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months.” SpaceX’s director of government sales told the Pentagon, “We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.”

Earlier this month, Musk conducted a non-scientific poll on Twitter on his peace plan, which involved the following four components:

  • “Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if that is will of the people.”
  • “Crimea formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).”
  • “Water supply to Crimea assured.”
  • “Ukraine remains neutral.”

Andrij Melnyk, who was recently dismissed as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany, responded to Musk’s proposal by writing: “F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk.”

A Ukrainian journalist responded to Friday’s news by writing: “Elon Musk’s Starlink says it can no longer afford to give Ukraine ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ free service and asks the Pentagon ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to pay for it. Starlink had been a game changer in the war. This comes days after Ukrainian Ambassador @MelnykAndrij told Musk to ‘f*** off.’”

Musk replied: “We’re just following his recommendation.”

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