Elon Musk has informed the Pentagon that SpaceX can no longer afford to fund Starlink service or donate terminals to Ukraine after providing vital communications services to the besieged country for seven months.
Beginning shortly after Russia first invaded Ukraine in February, SpaceX has been providing Starlink terminals to bolster Ukraine's communications in light of widespread destruction of critical infrastructure. In response, many Ukrainian officials, including the country's Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov, have praised Musk and Starlink for the support.
Now, it appears that SpaceX's apparent goodwill towards Ukraine is in jeopardy. According to a report by CNN (opens in new tab) that was later confirmed by Musk on Twitter, SpaceX will no longer fund Starlink service throughout Ukraine due to the immense costs of keeping the service operational.
SpaceX sent the Pentagon a letter in September stating it can no longer continue to fund Starlink service over Ukraine, according to documents reviewed by CNN (opens in new tab). According to the report, SpaceX "requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine's government and military use of Starlink, which SpaceX claims would cost more than $120 million for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months."
"We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time," the letter continues.
The report comes just days after the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk tweeted an expletive-laden message (opens in new tab) at Musk telling him to, more colorfully, get lost after the SpaceX CEO offered his own idea (opens in new tab) of a Ukraine-Russia peace deal that called for Ukraine to cede Crimea to Russia, among other measures.
On Friday (Oct. 14), Musk tweeted that SpaceX is simply following Melnyk's recommendation (opens in new tab)by terminating their funding of Starlink in Ukraine.
The report detailing SpaceX's plans to stop funding Starlink coverage isn't the only stir Musk has caused this week. On Wednesday (Oct. 12), Ian Bremmer, a political scientist who leads a consulting firm and media company, claimed that Musk has spoken directly with Russian President (opens in new tab) Vladimir Putin about the Ukraine invasion in recent weeks. Musk denied the allegations.
On Thursday (Oct. 13), reports surfaced that Musk is now under investigation by U.S. federal authorities (opens in new tab) over his plans to buy Twitter for $44 billion. The exact reasons for the investigation are unknown.