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24 Oct, 2022 12:23

Musk makes new Ukraine pledge

The SpaceX owner promised not to “turn off” the web service used by Kiev’s troops
Musk makes new Ukraine pledge

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged to continue providing Starlink mobile satellite internet services in Ukraine free of charge even if he fails to persuade the US Department of Defense (DoD) to share the bill.

The comment also follows recent reports that the European Union was considering funding Ukraine’s access to Starlink.

Musk tweeted on Monday that he had spoken with Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mikhail Fedorov. “Before DoD even came back with an answer, I told Fedorov that SpaceX would not turn off Starlink even if DoD refused to provide funding,” Musk wrote.

Fedorov thanked the billionaire for his support. “Before all the talks about funding, you confirmed to me that in any case, you will ensure the work of Starlink in Ukraine. This was critically important for Ukraine,” he wrote. Musk replied: “You’re most welcome.”

Musk’s company has donated around 25,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine since Russia launched its military operation in February. They are being used by Ukrainian troops on the battlefield.

CNN reported last month that SpaceX had warned the Pentagon that it may stop funding the service unless the US government covers some of the costs. However, Musk later said that, despite “losing money,” he will continue to fund Starlink in Ukraine for free. He stated that the operation has already cost $80 million and the expenses will top $100 million by the end of the year.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov told Politico magazine this month that Kiev will “not have a problem” with keeping Starlink online and Fedorov has been communicating closely with Musk.

Musk, who offered support to Ukraine early in the conflict, has recently faced criticism from Kiev and the Western media for suggesting that Ukraine might have to recognize Crimea as Russian territory and possibly make other concessions in order to reach a peace deal with Moscow. He argued that it is paramount to prevent the fighting from escalating into a larger conflict that could potentially involve nuclear weapons.