Russia hasn’t made it easy for Ukrainians to communicate. They’ve tried to block them from all forms of communication – from getting information about current events to communicating with loved ones. Luckily, Elon Musk has been able to help in that department. Starlink satellites have been delivered to the country with considerable frequency since the invasion began. It has made it easier for the country to remain connected to the internet and, thus, to the world.
The question is, how much does all of that cost? Well, it costs quite a bit, and there’s been some debate as to who should foot the bill.
Elon Musk has announced that he’s pulled back a request that was made for his Starlink satellite-based Internet service’s Ukrainian location that he wrote shortly after the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine and was due to receive Pentagon funding either in whole or in part. Musk’s statement came after a Politico report on October 17th, which reported that the same considerations were being considered.
Musk made the announcement via Twitter. “To be precise, 25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service”
The news is coming during an agitated period in the relationship between Musk and Ukraine after Musk’s remarks regarding the possibility of a peace treaty between the two sides. According to what Brandon Morse noted on October 14th in RedState.
Ukrainian leaders faced a challenge with this vote. Crimea is considered by Western allies as Ukrainian and the inclusion of Ukraine into NATO is something that it has actively pursued since the start of the war. Musk’s vote was viewed as pro-Russian, even though Musk insisted that the matter should be put up for a vote.
One reaction to the poll was from Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador in Germany and who did not appear to be very friendly to Musk.
“F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you Elon Musk,” tweeted Melnyk.
Then, it’s Friday, and Musk has declared Starlink is too expensive to continue offering for free and has asked the Pentagon to cover the cost. Jason Jay Smart of the Belarus Post tweeted about Musk’s decision to request that his U.S. government pick up the cost, prompting Musk to take action.
“We’re just following his recommendation,” Musk tweeted.
With the billions that have already been poured and continue to pour into Ukraine, there is a certain logic to any discussion for the U.S. government taking over the cost of Starlink and giving it to a wacky billionaire’s decision. Streiff in a post on the October 4th VIP blog post, detailed the amount that it is that the United States has given to Ukraine since the start of the war and also how, in typical federal manner, oversight has been severely lacking.
The question isn’t if Musk is able to keep the funding of Starlink within Ukraine. Sure, he could. However, it’s the question of what he should do. There are obvious reasons why Ukraine is somewhat tense at the moment regarding any suggestions about talks with Russia as long as the negotiations are comprised of only “get all the way out and stay there.” Evidently, Ukrainian diplomats aren’t accustomed to free-spirited free thinkers and Musk is the best example.
Elon Musk has, for a long time, marched according to his own beat, and one could say that he is a Joe Morello disciple. Although there are as many passionate opinions about this Russia-Ukraine War, the hope is Musk will be able to, for the benefit of Ukraine’s civilian population that has not done anything to merit the current war, continue to keep Starlink operating regardless of his disagreement over his Ukrainian government.
Meanwhile, if Pentagon wants to pitch in for the costs, that should still be up for discussion.