- The EU is considering paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine, according to Politico.
- EU officials fear SpaceX will cut internet service for Ukraine on a whim.
- SpaceX had previously asked the Pentagon to fund Starlink service in Ukraine due to costs.
- For more stories, visit Business Insider.
The European Union is considering paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink internet services in Ukraine – a service key for wartime communications – lest the billionaire cut it off abruptly, Politics reported Monday.
The issue was raised by EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, told Politico. Discussions are at an early stage.
This is days after CNN reported that Elon Musk’s SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to fund satellite internet service in Ukraine, due to costs. The company expects the cost of operating Starlink in Ukraine to be more than $120 million for the remainder of 2022 and nearly $400 million for 2023.
Monday, Musk tweeted that SpaceX withdrew the request.
Starlink is still a loss-making company, Musk said in an earlier tweet, adding that SpaceX “will continue to fund” internet service in Ukraine anyway.
Damn…even if Starlink continues to lose money and other companies receive billions of taxpayer dollars, we will continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 15, 2022
But the EU remains concerned that Ukraine’s internet connectivity could be cut at will, the FT reported.
“For now, let’s be happy he’s paying for it. But we have to be careful,” an unnamed EU official told the FT. “The Ukrainians are very worried that he will cut it again.”
Landsbergis, from Lithuania, told Politico that Ukraine’s internet access shouldn’t depend on a “super-powered” individual who might “wake up one day and say, ‘This is not what I am anymore. ‘I want to do and that’s it’”.
It would be best if a coalition of countries signed a contract with SpaceX so the company could continue to provide internet access to Ukraine on an official basis, Landsbergis told Politico.
EU officials told the FT they will explore other satellite services.
The European Commission and SpaceX did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment that were sent outside of normal business hours.
Controversy over Musk’s peace plan for Ukraine
Developments surrounding Starlink’s services in Ukraine came after the billionaire on October 4 tweeted a vote for a peace plan including recognition The annexation of Crimea by Russia. A Ukrainian diplomatblasted Musk’s controversial proposaltweeting “Fuck off is my very diplomatic response.”
Responding to an Oct. 14 tweet regarding SpaceX’s request to the Pentagon to pay for Starlink’s service in Ukraine, Musk said SpaceX was only “following” that diplomat’s recommendation.
The company began shipping Starlink terminals in February after Russia invaded Ukraine.
SpaceX has sent some 25,300 SpaceX terminals to Ukraine, Musk said in a Tweeter In Monday. But “only 10,630 are paying for the service,” he added.