SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Sunday that the firm’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.”
Some context: 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 apparently reversed course, abruptly announcing on Twitter that SpaceX would continue funding the service in Ukraine for free.
The Pentagon said last week that talks with SpaceX about Ukraine are ongoing.
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.
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’s Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt contributed reporting.