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Pentagon discloses $23 million SpaceX contract for Starlink in Ukraine

11 April, 2024 Thursday
16:08

The Pentagon has revealed that its contract with Elon Musk's SpaceX to deploy Starlink terminals in Ukraine is worth $23 million. This contract, crucial for security assistance to Ukraine, runs from June of last year to next month, with renewal status unclear

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Bloomberg writes about it.

US officials, speaking anonymously, highlighted Starlink's role in keeping civilians connected and supporting Ukraine's military during the conflict with Russia. Ukraine has already received 10,000 terminals.

While the $23 million contract is relatively small compared to SpaceX's other ventures, Musk has expressed mixed feelings about Ukraine's use of Starlink, stressing its civilian, not military, purpose.

Musk's concerns about escalating conflict led to tensions, including threats to cut financial support and proposing peace terms that irked the Biden administration.

Background

In September 2023, reports surfaced that American billionaire Elon Musk disabled Starlink in Crimea and Donbas, purportedly to prevent its use by the Armed Forces during a counteroffensive.

Writer Walter Isaacson detailed the Starlink shutdown in his biography of Elon Musk. He suggested that Musk feared the technology would aid an attack on Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Musk countered by stating that he didn't deactivate Starlink in Crimea, but instead declined Ukraine's request to connect it. 

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office, criticized Musk's actions as a mix of ignorance and ego, leading to significant human casualties.

The US Senate was pushing for an investigation into Elon Musk's SpaceX company after it was revealed that he had blocked Ukraine's Starlink satellite internet in Crimea, which is under temporary occupation.

This isn't Musk's first controversy: SpaceX notified the Pentagon of its decision not to fund Starlink satellite communication services in Ukraine, leaving the US to cover the expenses.

In February 2024, reports emerged that Russian troops are utilizing the Starlink satellite internet platform from Musk's SpaceX company in the Ukrainian conflict, as confirmed by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense.

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