Elon Musk provided the people of Ukraine with the Starlink internet service, which is run by his rocket firm, SpaceX, not long after Russia invaded Ukraine. This offered the Ukrainians a digital lifeline shortly after the invasion.
However, these actions resulted in the richest man in the world becoming embroiled in a global controversy on Friday. Mr. Musk stated that his company was unable to “indefinitely” fund Ukraine’s use of Starlink, which has become essential for the communication of the Ukrainian Army as it advances into territory occupied by Russia and defends itself against ongoing Russian attacks.
Mr. Musk made his remarks on Twitter after CNN reported that SpaceX had sent a letter to the Pentagon one month ago requesting that it take over the financing of Ukraine’s usage of Starlink. Mr. Musk’s comments came after CNN’s revelation. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, around 20,000 Starlink terminals have been deployed there. These terminals were created to collaborate with satellites in orbit above the earth in order to give internet connectivity. Mr. Musk discussed the challenges associated with supporting the military service, although he did not address the Pentagon.
“SpaceX is not looking to recover previous expenditures; nevertheless, we also cannot finance the present system forever *and* send several thousand additional terminals that have data demand that is up to 100X larger than ordinary families,” he added. “SpaceX is not asking for reimbursement for any of these costs.”
It was yet another issue stirred up by Mr. Musk, 51, who has become an unexpected agitator in international geopolitics. The scenario, which prompted an uproar because of how it would cripple Ukrainian troops, was yet another controversy stirred up by Mr. Musk. The billionaire, who runs the electric automaker Tesla as well as other firms, is already entangled in public scandals on many other fronts. One of these scandals involves a will-he-won’t-he contract to purchase the social media site Twitter for $44 billion.
Mr. Musk’s proposal to end the conflict, which included yielding land to Russia, was met with harsh criticism by Ukrainian leaders a week ago. In his plan, Mr. Musk said that the war might be ended by ceding territory to Russia. In a separate interview with The Financial Times, he made the suggestion that a resolution to the tensions that exist between China and Taiwan may be achieved by ceding part of Taiwan’s sovereignty to Beijing.
According to Xiaomeng Lu, a director of Eurasia Company, a political consulting and research group in Washington, “Elon Musk is always a danger element.” The situation in Ukraine is quite dangerous.
Requests for comments were sent to SpaceX and Mr. Musk, but neither company responded.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an assistant to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, took a conciliatory tone with Mr. Musk in a tweet that he sent on Friday. He said that Mr. Musk assisted the nation in “surviving the most vital periods of conflict.”
In 2015, Mr. Musk said that SpaceX was in the process of building the Starlink service to give internet connection to both companies and people. Now available in forty different countries, Starlink services are provided by the corporation. The cost of the terminals itself is an extra $600 on top of the monthly subscription for the service, which ranges from $100 to $500 per terminal in the United States. The fact that the service is delivered by thousands of satellites, each of which is very difficult to destroy in orbit, makes it more difficult to interrupt than standard internet services. As a result, it is an excellent option for usage during times of conflict.
Since February, when Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, tweeted a message to Mr. Musk about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Mr. Musk has been involved in the conflict. Mr. Fedorov made a request for assistance in acquiring Starlink terminals so that Ukrainians would be able to continue using the internet even in the event that Russia destroyed the primary telecommunications infrastructure of the nation.
Mr. Musk quickly replied, and a shipment of Starlink equipment arrived in Ukraine only two days after it had been sent there. Mr. Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the billionaire and said that the service will assist in preserving communications in places that were under siege by Russian forces.
According to a document that SpaceX sent to The New York Times, the approximately 20,000 terminals that are now being used in Ukraine have been paid for by SpaceX, at least three Western nations, and other friends. According to a letter that the Ukrainian Army sent to SpaceX and published with The Times, the Ukrainian Army uses around 4,000 of the terminals. The letter was shared with The Times. According to Mr. Musk, SpaceX has decided to stop charging customers for the service on a monthly basis.