Elon Musk is backing down, saying his company will continue funding internet services in Ukraine

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s billionaire CEO, abruptly reversed his decision on Saturday, saying his company will continue to fund operations of the Starlink internet service in Ukraine, where it has become a digital lifeline for soldiers and civilians.

Musk, the richest man in the world, drew criticism on Friday when he said on Twitter that his company could not fund Ukraine’s use of Starlink “indefinitely.” The service was vital to the Ukrainian Army’s communications as it advances into Russian-held territory and defends against continued Russian attacks.

CNN reported that last month SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon asking it to provide funding for Ukraine’s use of Starlink, which SpaceX builds and operates.

But on Saturday, Musk changed course and reposted his decision on Twitter.

“The hell with that,” he wrote. He added that “although Starlink is still losing money” and “other companies are getting billions” in taxpayers’ money, “we’re just going to keep funding the Ukrainian government for free.”

Musk helped get Ukraine access to the service after Russia invaded in late February. About 20,000 Starlink terminals, designed to work with orbiting satellites to provide online access, have been shipped to Ukraine.

It’s not entirely clear who is footing the bill for the service. A document obtained by the New York Times showed that since September, Starlink terminals have been partially funded by three western governments: the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland.

The document showed that SpaceX donated about 3,000 terminals to Ukraine, while other governments and allies provided funding for nearly 17,000. Musk has previously said that SpaceX will foot the monthly bill for the service, which is streamed to terminals.

Earlier this month, Musk said the Ukraine operation cost SpaceX $80 million. On Friday, he added that the “burn” on the project, which refers to money spent by SpaceX, is about $20 million a month.

As of July, the Ukrainian army was using around 4,000 of the mobile devices. This month, the Army requested another 6,700 from SpaceX but has yet to receive them.

Musk’s Starlink comments come a week after he was severely rebuked by Ukrainian officials for proposing a peace plan – which involved ceding territory to Russia – to end the war.

Supply Hyperlink

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