The billionaire’s statement comes after the Ukrainian ambassador attacked him over his proposed “peace plan”.
Billionaire Elon Musk has said his space exploration company SpaceX cannot “indefinitely” fund Starlink internet service in war-torn Ukraine, days after a proposal to end the conflict that included handing over some territories of the country in Russia questioned its support.
“SpaceX isn’t asking to recoup past expenses, but it also can’t fund the existing system indefinitely *and* ship several thousand more terminals that have up to 100 times the data usage of typical households. That’s not reasonable,” Musk said on Twitter.
Musk activated Starlink, a satellite Internet service operated by SpaceX, in late February after Ukraine’s Internet services were disrupted due to Russia’s invasion. Its Internet terminals have been crucial in keeping the Ukrainian military online.
Musk said Starlink was spending nearly $20 million a month, which he called a “burn,” to maintain satellite services in Ukraine. He said SpaceX had recently spent about $80 million to enable and support Starlink in Ukraine.
CNN reported Thursday that SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month saying it may have to stop funding the service unless the U.S. military helps with tens of millions of dollars a month.
One of Musk’s tweets suggested the move could also be a response to harsh criticism following his proposed “peace” plan.
While Ukraine has long maintained that it will never agree to cede land taken by force, Musk suggested that it permanently cede the Crimea region to Russia, that new referendums be held under the auspices of the United Nations to determine the territory’s fate controlled by Russia and that Ukraine accept neutrality.
– Redo the elections of the annexed regions under the supervision of the UN. Russia leaves if this is the will of the people.
– Crimea is formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).
– The water supply in Crimea is guaranteed.
– Ukraine remains neutral.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was among those who criticized Musk’s proposal.
Ukraine’s outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, also condemned it in strong terms. “F*** off is my very diplomatic response to you @elonmusk,” he said on Twitter.
In response to a post referring to the fate of the Starlink service and the ambassador’s comment, Musk said: “We’re just following his recommendation.”
Disruption of service may have dire consequences for Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said this week that Starlink services have helped restore energy and communications infrastructure in critical areas after more than 100 Russian cruise missile strikes.
Encrypted satellite messages have been used for military communications after the local mobile phone network was cut during heavy bombing.
The US government gave Musk the green light to activate the Starlink satellite internet service to help Iranians protesting the death of a woman in police custody.
The move follows deadly protests across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died after being arrested by “morality police” over the way she wore a headscarf.