Musk to defund Starlink in Ukraine, SpaceX can no longer fund effort

On the heels of a report of Starlink going dark over Crimea
Stephen Vicinanza
Elon Musk Starlink
Elon Musk Starlink


SpaceX reportedly asks the US government to pick up the tab as relations degrade between Kyiv and Musk. The report comes right after conflicting reports of Starlink already shutting down over Crimea, the Russian-occupied region of Ukraine. This new reporting has SpaceX directly warning the US government they can no longer donate internet access to Ukraine.

The report is made in the Guardian Article, based on a letter to the US Government seen by CNN

“We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote in that letter.

In a different letter also reported by CNN, a consultant working for the company told the Pentagon: “SpaceX faces terribly difficult decisions here. I do not think they have the financial ability to provide any additional terminals or service.”

Elon Musk seemed to confirm the report by noting “nothing has leaked about our competitors in space launch and communications, Lockheed, and Boeing, who get over $60B [from the US DOD] In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain and replenish satellites and ground stations and pay telcos for access to the internet via gateways.

“We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks and jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching 20M a month,” Musk said in a tweet.

This funding request comes right after a high-profile intervention from Musk, who suggested Ukraine seek an end to the war, by surrendering territory to Russia and committing to becoming “neutral.”

These tweets led to a furious reaction from the Ukraine government, which had recently praised Musk for donating to the Starlink system.

The reply to this recommendation from Musk, was direct and harsh from Adrij Menyk, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, who tweeted, “f . . . off is my very diplomatic reply to you. The only outcome is that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your f . . ing tesla crap. So good luck to you.”

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In response to suggestions that Musk was threatening to withdraw Starlink because of Melnyk’s words, the SpaceX chief executive tweeted this morning, “we are just following his recommendations”

Ukrainian forces have already reported problems with Starlink connection in recent days. This after Muck’s attempted peace process but before the latest funding gap letters to the US government.

Just last week the Financial Times reported a “catastrophic” loss of all communications just as the Ukrainian soldiers pushed into land previously held by Russian forces, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

On Tuesday, Musk denied a report that he had spoken directly to Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, Ian Bremmer, the president of the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said: “Elon Musk told me he had spoken with Putin and the Kremlin directly about Ukraine. He also told me what the Kremlin’s red lines were.”

Musk tweeted a reply: “Nobody should trust Bremmer.”

This report may be the start of a major blow to the Ukrainian effort to retake occupied regions. Without communication they are at a huge disadvantage, the effect being they become completely cut off, and exposed, while Putin maintains his communications.

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