SpaceX, the operator of the Starlink internet network, recently requested government support to cover the huge costs of providing and connecting the more than 22,000 Starlink terminals already sent to Ukraine, with CEO Elon Musk saying it is not normal for a private company to bear the entire financial burden for essential aid to Ukraine.
In fact, the threats to suspend Starlink connectivity appear to have a personal motivation as well, with the SpaceX chief recalling that he was upset when Ukraine’s ambassador publicly criticized him for his views on Russian-occupied regions.
Elon Musk’s company asked the US Department of Defense in September to pick up the cost of operating these devices and financially support the purchase of new units if they are needed in the future. After the online scandal that seems to have damaged the billionaire’s public image, he announced that he would no longer ask for money for internet access via Starlink in Ukraine, while expressing disappointment at the US government’s refusal to provide funding,
Meanwhile, several European Union nations have decided that it is in everyone’s interest to support the continuation of this aid to Ukraine as the Russian invasion persists.
Compact enough to be carried in a backpack, Starlink terminals can be placed virtually anywhere there is unobstructed view of the sky, and the Internet connection is both fast and impossible to censor.
With the funding problem apparently solved, Ukraine is to receive an additional 10,000 free Starlink terminals, to be used to restore communications in regions badly affected by Russian attacks on the power supply infrastructure.