Elon Musk has revealed that SpaceX has spent $80 million of its own money to expand the company’s Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine in response to a new controversy.
Musk mentioned the $80 million in funding on Monday, following a controversial tweet(Opens in a new window) in which he suggested Ukraine hand over the disputed region of Crimea to Russia in order to end the two countries’ ongoing war.
“Crimea is formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (except for Khrushchev’s error),” Musk wrote. Musk proposed holding UN-supervised elections in the Ukrainian territories Russia recently annexed to determine which country they belong to in the same tweet.
His post sparked immediate speculation and outrage over whether Musk was abandoning his support for Ukraine in favor of the Kremlin. Musk’s company SpaceX has sent numerous shipments of Starlink dishes to Ukraine since the beginning of the war in an effort to keep the country connected.
Most notably, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy weighed in on Twitter with a poll, asking: “Which @elonmusk(Opens in a new window) do you prefer?” One who backs Ukraine? One who backs Russia?” Over 79%
In response to the criticism, Musk stated that he still supports Ukraine, but that he fears the Kremlin will escalate and spark a nuclear war if the fighting spreads to Crimea, which Russia currently controls. He cited SpaceX’s funding of Starlink in Ukraine as proof of his support for the country.
“So far, SpaceX’s out-of-pocket cost to enable and support Starlink in Ukraine is $80 million.” Our contribution to Russia is nil. “Obviously, we support Ukraine,” he tweeted (Opens in a new window). “Attempting to retake Crimea will result in massive casualties, failure, and the risk of nuclear war.” This would be disastrous for Ukraine and the planet.”
Musk also used the $80 million figure to retaliate against Russian chess grandmaster and Putin critic Garry Kasparov, who accused Musk of “moral idiocy” for repeating Kremlin propaganda.
“We gave Starlinks to Ukraine and lost $80 million while putting SpaceX and myself at risk of a Russian cyberattack.” “Aside from tweeting, what else have you done?” Musk inquired.
Furthermore, Musk addressed the role of the US government in funding Starlink’s deployment in Ukraine. In April, a US government agency quietly revealed(Opens in a new window) that it had paid $10 million to assist in bringing 1,333 Starlink dishes to the country out of 5,000. The Washington Post noted the inconsistency with an earlier statement from SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who claimed the US had not provided funding for Starlink dishes headed to Ukraine.
On Monday, Musk stated that “only a small number of terminals were paid for by the government, the vast majority were not.” This is yet another BS WaPo hit.”
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Musk revealed in June that the company had sent 15,000 Starlink dishes to Ukraine. Satellite internet is currently providing high-speed broadband in many war-torn areas throughout the country. Furthermore, the Ukrainian military has relied on Starlink to send encrypted messages and control drones (Opens in a new window) that can attack Russian forces. As a result, the Kremlin has issued veiled threats of retaliation against Starlink.