- The Washington Times
Monday, October 17, 2022

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has apparently changed his mind about threatening to shut down his Starlink satellite network which was set up to provide vital communications services for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February unless the U.S. government steps in to pay the freight.

The Starlink satellite internet terminals made by Mr. Musk’s SpaceX have been a critical resource for Ukraine’s military trying to stay connected on the battlefield even as other cellular and internet networks have been destroyed in the war now in its eighth month.

Mr. Musk has said on social media that the Starlink operation he set up in Ukraine could cost as much as $100 million by the end of the year. He tweeted that more than 25,000 terminals were sent to Ukraine but he was being reimbursed for fewer than 11,000 of them.

SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely and send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to one hundred times greater than typical households. This is unreasonable,” he said last week on Twitter.

But on Monday, Mr. Musk seemed to change his mind about seeking government funding for the Starlink services.

SpaceX has already withdrawn its request for funding,” Mr. Musk tweeted. He didn’t elaborate on the reasoning behind his apparent change of heart.

On Monday, a Defense Department official said they were talking to SpaceX about fulfilling Ukraine’s communication needs and had a “very productive” working relationship with the company. 

“The Department of Defense will continue to work with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense to support them with their need for satellite communications capability,” the official told reporters at the Pentagon.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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