Elon Musk announced he has withdrawn a request that his Starlink satellite Internet system’s Ukrainian placement, which he underwrote shortly after the Russia-Ukraine War’s start, receive Pentagon financing in part or whole. Musk’s response came following a Politico story on October 17th that such considerations were taking place. From the Politico article:
The discussion comes after CNN reported that SpaceX warned the Pentagon last month that it would no longer be able to finance the satellite terminals and communications services, which has already cost it over $80 million and could cost hundreds of millions more over the next year.
Musk announced the decision via Twitter.
To be precise, 25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 17, 2022
The news comes during a tense period between Musk and Ukraine following Musk’s comments regarding a theoretical peace agreement between the combatants. As Brandon Morse noted on October 14th here at RedState:
Ukrainian leaders had a problem with this poll. Crimea is seen by western allies as Ukrainian and Ukraine’s inclusion into NATO is something it’s pursued heavily since the war started. Musk’s poll was seen as being pro-Russian despite Musk saying that it should be put to a vote.
One response to the poll came from Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, who was not at all kind to Musk.
“F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you Elon Musk,” tweeted Melnyk.
Fast forward to Friday and Musk has now declared Starlink too expensive to continue giving away for free and is now asking the Pentagon to foot the bill. Jason Jay Smart of the Belarus Post tweeted about Musk’s move to have the U.S. government pick up the tab causing Musk to respond.
“We’re just following his recommendation,” tweeted Musk.
Given the billions already poured and continuously poured into Ukraine, there is a certain logic behind any consideration of the U.S. government taking over paying for Starlink, thus not leaving it at a quirky billionaire’s discretion. Streiff in an October 4th VIP post detailed just how much the United States has given to Ukraine since the war’s beginning, and how, in typical government fashion, oversight has been woefully inadequate.
The question isn’t whether Musk can afford to continue funding Starlink in Ukraine. Of course he can. Instead, it is a matter of whether he should. For obvious reasons, Ukraine is more than a little touchy right now regarding any suggestions concerning negotiations with Russia unless said negotiations consist of nothing but “get all the way out and stay there.” Apparently, Ukrainian diplomats are unaccustomed to free-wheeling free thinkers, of which Musk is the epitome.
Elon Musk has long marched to the beat of his own drummer, who one suspects is a Joe Morello disciple. While there are as many passionate takes on the Russia-Ukraine War as there are lies during a campaign season, the hope is Musk will, for the sake of Ukraine’s civilian population, which has done nothing to deserve the current invasion, keep Starlink in operation regardless of his spat with the Ukrainian government.