Saturday, December 10, 2022

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Tells Washington They Can No Longer Donate Expensive Starlink Services To Ukraine

SpaceX informed the US Defense Department in September that it can no longer donate its Starlink services to Ukraine and requested that the US government fund it instead, CNN reported.

Starlink Access Denied! Ukraine Fumes As Elon Musk Reportedly Turns Down Request To Provide Internet In Crimea

SpaceX is not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time, a company official said in a letter to the Defense Department, as quoted by the report on Thursday.

The report said that SpaceX would end up spending more than $120 million donating its Starlink services to Ukraine this year and expects it could cost about $400 million to continue providing those services next year.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Sputnik’s request for comment on this matter.

The report noted that Ukraine’s commanding general, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhniy, requested 8,000 more Starlink terminals in July, especially since about 500 Starlink terminals were destroyed on the battlefield each month. However, a consultant for SpaceX advised him that the request could not be met because of the financial burden to the company.

SpaceX
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Moreover, the report, citing sources, said wide-ranging outages of Starlink’s services on the frontlines of the conflict in Ukraine are affecting the Ukrainian armed forces’ ability to make further advances.

Sources told CNN that Starlink is the main way Ukraine’s armed forces communicate on the battlefield, and the Ukrainian government and its military efforts are entirely dependent on it.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said previously via Twitter, in response to these outages, that what is happening on the battlefield is classified.

Earlier, Financial Times reported on Friday, citing Ukrainian officials and soldiers, of massive failures of Starlink communication equipment supplied by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company on the frontline amid the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

The Starlink equipment failures led to a “catastrophic” loss of communication in recent weeks as Ukrainian military forces breached the frontline into Russian-controlled territory, according to a senior Ukrainian government official in the know.

The most significant outages were reported from the areas around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, as well as along the frontline in eastern Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, the report said.

According to the officials, the problems with communication took place when Ukrainian soldiers moved across the frontline into Russian-controlled parts of the country and prompted panicked calls to helplines.

“It is absolutely clear to me that this is being done by representatives of Starlink to prevent the usage of their technology by Russian occupation forces,” the report cited Roman Sinicyn, a co-ordinator at the Serhiy Prytula Charity, a foundation that donates Starlink systems to the Ukrainian armed forces, as saying said.

Sinicyn added that, in his view, the Ukrainian military and SpaceX need to coordinate more closely, the report said.

Elon Musk commented on the report in one of his tweets, accusing the authors of the report of distorting the facts. He pointed out that, in contrast to what the report said, only a “small percentage” of Starlink terminals and services were paid for by the US government and other sources, whereas SpaceX’s expenses to supply Starlink terminals to Ukraine were $80 million and will increase to $100 million by the end of the year.

At the same time, Musk did not corroborate the reports about the Starlink terminals outages in Ukraine.

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