Home Technology The EU Is Mulling Paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink Service in Ukraine

The EU Is Mulling Paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink Service in Ukraine

by Atlanta Business Journal
  • The EU is mulling paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine, per Politico.
  • EU officials are worried that SpaceX could cut internet service for Ukraine on a whim.
  • SpaceX had earlier requested the Pentagon to fund the Starlink service in Ukraine due to costs.

The European Union is considering paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink internet services in Ukraine — a service key for wartime communication — over fears the billionaire may cut it off abruptly, Politico reported Monday. 

The issue was raised by the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell at a Monday EU meeting of foreign ministers, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, told Politico. The discussions are at an early stage. 

This is days after CNN reported that Elon Musk’s SpaceX had requested the Pentagon to fund the satellite internet service in Ukraine, due to costs. The company expects the cost of running Starlink in Ukraine to come up to more than $120 million for the rest of 2022 and nearly $400 million for 2023. 

On Monday, Musk tweeted that SpaceX has withdrawn the request.

Starlink is still a loss-making business, Musk said in a previous tweet, adding SpaceX will “just keep funding” the internet service in Ukraine anyway. 

But there are still concerns within the EU that Ukraine’s internet connectivity could be cut off at his whim, the FT reported. 

“For the time being, let’s be happy that he is paying for it. But we need to be on the safe side,” an unnamed EU official told the FT. “The Ukrainians are very worried that he will still cut it off.”

Lithuania’s Landsbergis told Politico that Ukraine’s internet access shouldn’t depend on a “super-powerful” individual who could “wake up one day and say, ‘This is no longer what I feel like doing and this is it.'”

It would be better for a coalition of countries to sign an contract with SpaceX so that the company can continue providing internet access to Ukraine on an official basis, Landsbergis told Politico. 

EU officials told the FT they will explore other satellite services.

An EU spokesperson told Insider the bloc “acknowledges the company SpaceX’s decision to continue funding the subscription cost of the Starlink terminals” that are essential for Ukrainian people in places where internet services have been destroyed by Russia.

SpaceX did not respond to requests from Insider for comment which were sent outside regular business hours.

Controversy over Musk’s peace plan for Ukraine

The developments surrounding Starlink’s services in Ukraine came after the billionaire on October 4 tweeted a vote for peace plan that included recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. A Ukrainian diplomat blasted Musk’s controversial proposal, tweeting “Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you.”

In response to a tweet on October 14 about SpaceX’s request to the Pentagon to pay for Starlink’s service in Ukraine, Musk said SpaceX was just “following” that diplomat’s recommendation.

 

The company started sending Starlink terminals in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

SpaceX has sent some 25,300 SpaceX terminals to Ukraine, Musk said in a tweet on Monday. But “only 10,630 are paying for service,” he added.

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