Elon Musk’s satellites for Ukraine have been a nightmare for Russia.
Photo: EFE – ALEXANDER BECHER
After challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin to a fist fight, Elon Musk launched into a real defense of Ukraine. The multimillionaire of South African origin promised to send thousands of satellites of the Internet service of the Starlink company to the European country to keep the population connected. For months, nearly 20,000 Starlink units have not only kept civilians connected, but also helped troops stay informed when phone networks are destroyed by Moscow bombing. However, the donations seem to be coming to an end.
CNN obtained a series of documents indicating that SpaceX, Musk’s company, told the Pentagon that it can no longer continue financing the Starlink satellites sent to Ukraine and asked the government to bear the costs. According to estimates, keeping Ukraine connected through these satellites would cost close to $400 million over the next 12 months. Musk said on his Twitter account on Friday that “the (Ukrainian Internet) operation has cost SpaceX $80 million so far this year.”
“We are not in a position to continue donating terminals to Ukraine, or to fund existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX director of government sales Bryon Hargis told the Pentagon in a letter.
For the Ukrainian troops, losing the Internet connection would be a serious blow. In July, the general commander of the Ukrainian army, General Valerii Zaluzhniy, had conveyed to Musk the need to send 8,000 more satellites, to which SpaceX replied that “it did not have the financial capacity to do so.”
“Starlink is the primary way units on the battlefield have to communicate,” a source told CNN.
The satellites, in fact, have been showing failures in recent weeks, right in the middle of the Ukrainian army’s counteroffensive. The blackouts were most pronounced in Kherson, a region where the most intense battles between the Russian and Ukrainian armies are currently being fought. Starlink operations in Ukraine were stable again on Wednesday, the newspaper reported. Financial Times. Musk and SpaceX have declined to comment on their satellite blackouts.
“Starlink continues to be an essential part of critical infrastructure,” said Ukraine’s deputy prime minister in charge of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov.
Musk replied: “You’re welcome. Pleased to support Ukraine.”
But it should be noted that the charity of Musk and SpaceX has not been as the billionaire sells it. According to figures from his company, the United States, Poland and others have paid for about 85% of the 20,000 satellites sent to Ukraine. They have also paid 30% for internet connectivity.
“They have the gall to look like heroes,” a military source, upset by the situation, told the US network. CNN.
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Pentagon officials are chafing at SpaceX’s request, which is estimated to cost the government about $120 by the end of the year.
While the billionaire was praised by kyiv earlier in the war for providing them with internet, Musk has angered the Ukrainian government in recent days after declaring that Ukraine must cede Crimea to Moscow.
If Ukraine runs out of internet right now, that would affect “all the efforts of the Ukrainians to get over that front,” an anonymous person told The Associated Press. CNN.
“You could say he’s trying to get money from the government or just trying to say ‘I don’t want to be a part of this anymore,'” a person familiar with Ukraine’s requests for Starlink told CNN.
This revelation comes just hours after Twitter reported that Elon Musk is under investigation by the US government in connection with the purchase of this company.
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Musk Says He Can’t Give Ukraine Internet Anymore; he asks the pentagon to pay