The United States and its allies are exploring methods of financing SpaceX’s Starlink satellite communications system operations in Ukraine or an alternative, due to loss of confidence in the company’s leadership.
Two US officials who spoke to Politics claim that the Ministry of Defense plans to fund Starlink’s operating costs through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. The Initiative is a fund currently used to finance purchases of arms and equipment from US manufacturers that are delivered within months or years of signing the contract. Another involved official said there was little confidence in the confidence of SpaceX chief Elon Musk, given recent statements, requiring exploration of other means of funding Starlink or a replacement system. .
Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landbergis said Politics that the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, had raised the subject of the financing of Starlink’s operations during a meeting on Monday, but said the effort was still in its early stages. On October 15, Landbergis said that Vilnius was ready to contribute as part of a coalition to finance the operations of Starlink or that of an alternative provider, Tweeter that “Ukraine’s Internet connectivity is too important to be left in the hands of a single individual”.
Ukrainian volunteers have challenged claims by Musk and his supporters about the scale of the Starlink donations claimed and that the system is not subsidized enough by Western governments, saying they pay for the terminals and the costs of subscription from their own funds. Dimko Zhluktenko, founder of the Dzyga’s Paw charity fund that funds Starlink terminals and other supplies and equipment for Ukrainian troops, described Starlink connectivity as a “game changer” for Ukrainian forces. However, he added that “I haven’t seen ANY StarLinks purchased by governments or by SpaceX. All the Starlinks I’ve seen/used – have been purchased either by volunteers like me or by soldiers who have put their personal money in,” with the monthly subscription cost of $60 per terminal also paid out of pocket. Dzyga’s Paw is currently fundraising for another 100 Starlink terminals.
Prior to the funding complaints, SpaceX had come under scrutiny for reports of Starlink outages or disruptions to territory retaken by Ukrainian forces in recent counteroffensives in the east and south. from the country. Ukrainian officials who spoke with the FinancialTimes were quoted that the end of these disturbances following an earlier report by the newspaper have raised the suspicion that they were the work of SpaceXrather than the result of Russian electronic warfare efforts.
Late Tuesday, Musk reiterated his claims that Starlink was losing $20 million a month on services to Ukraine due to “unspecified unpaid costs and costs related to enhanced security measures for cyber warfare defense.” However, the world’s richest man has admitted for the first time that individuals, non-governmental organizations and other governments are actually paying for the costs of using Starlink in Ukraine.