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‘Unreasonable’: Musk’s signal to Pentagon on providing indefinite Starlink access to Ukraine

The letter comes amid recent reports of Starlink outages across Ukraine and rising concern over Musk's allegiance to Ukraine following controversial tweets.

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New Delhi: Elon Musk’s Space X, in a letter to the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, has threatened to discontinue the charitable funding of the Starlink satellite services in war-torn Ukraine unless the Pentagon pays for it, CNN reported.

Calling it “unreasonable”, Musk said SpaceX could not “indefinitely” fund the Starlink internet service in Ukraine.

“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 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable,” the Tesla CEO wrote in a Tweet.

The letter comes amid recent reports of Starlink outages across the war-torn nation and rising concern over Musk’s allegiance with Ukraine after his recent tweets courted controversy.

In a series of tweets, the SpaceX founder suggested a controversial peace plan for Ukraine, polling on whether the nation should give up Crimea and other eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. 

In the letter accessed by the US news outlet CNN, SpaceX has requested the Pentagon to take over the funding and military use of Starlink since “they are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time”. Along with the letter is an unreported request to SpaceX by the Ukrainian military general for another 8000 Starlink terminals.

Earlier this month, Musk had said that his actions to stop the funding for Starlink to Ukraine were guided by the advice of a Ukrainian diplomat who had trashed his peace plan on Twitter. The report suggests that the letter was sent before the exchange.

While The Financial Times breaking the news on the power outages in Ukraine said it resulted in “catastrophic” loss of communication, Musk responded to the article by saying that actions on the battlefield are classified.

Earlier on 4 October, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a poll questioning Musk’s support for Ukraine. The Tesla CEO responded by saying that he “still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”

A war of words

According to CNN, of the 20,000 Starlink terminals used in the Russo-Ukrainian war, most have received partial or complete funding from the United States, United Kingdom and Poland governments.

Earlier in a tweet on 7 October, Musk had mentioned that “this operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s request to the US military to take over Starlink’s bills has allegedly irked senior officials in the Pentagon with one of them remarking that Musk’s organisation “has the gall to look like heroes”  by making others pay a bill worth millions per month.

Also read: Musk’s SpaceX to seek govt permit for Starlink internet services in India, report says


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