Elon Musk said Sunday that SpaceX’s satellite internet service Starlink, which provides crucial telecommunication services in Ukraine, would not be shut off regardless of whether the company receives funding from the US Defense Department.
“Before [the Department of Defense] even came back with an answer, I told @FedorovMykhailo that SpaceX would not turn off Starlink even if DoD refused to provide funding,” Musk tweeted Sunday evening, referencing talks with Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation.
Fedorov has previously praised SpaceX and Starlink, calling Musk “among the world’s top private donors supporting Ukraine.”
The Starlink satellite internet terminals made by SpaceX, which began arriving in Ukraine last spring, have allowed Kyiv’s military to fight and stay connected even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia.
CNN first reported earlier this month that SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to pay tens of millions of dollars per month to fund Starlink in Ukraine and take the burden off SpaceX. In response to that reporting, Musk then abruptly announced on Twitter that he had withdrawn the funding request.
The Pentagon said last week that talks with SpaceX about Ukraine are ongoing, after documents obtained by CNN showed SpaceX warning the Pentagon last month it could no longer fund or service Starlink in Ukraine “for an indefinite period of time.”
“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 to the Pentagon in the September letter.
SpaceX claims that providing Starlink services in Ukraine have cost it $80 million so far and that by the end of the year costs will exceed $100 million.
CNN’s Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.