“We’re Just Following His Recommendation”: Elon Musk Confirms Report Pentagon Asked to Fund Starlink for Ukraine; Cites Ambassador Who Told Him to “F*** Off” Over Peace Plan

Elon Musk confirmed Friday that SpaceX has asked the Pentagon to pick up the tab to provide ongoing Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine, citing being told to “F*** off” by a Ukrainian ambassador after Musk proposed a peace deal in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Starlink’s letter to the Department of Defense was sent before the insult, but Musk seemed to confirm the insult has had an effect. Musk said Starlink’s costs are running about $20 million per month. The U.S. and others have been partially paying for the reported more than 12,000 terminals and service provided after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Elon Musk, file screen image.

On October 3, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk said to Musk, “Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk”

Early Friday morning, Musk replied to a Kyiv Post reporter who noted the insult in a report on Starlink, “We’re just following his recommendation,” with a shrugging emoji.

Musk previously noted the expenses are becoming too much to handle for Starlink, “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable.”

The Washington Post reported the Biden administration is furious with Musk:

A senior U.S. defense official confirmed late Thursday that Musk had privately urged the Pentagon to pay up. The official said there was no comparable system with such widespread applicability. The bill is likely to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the next year, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official described it as a scenario in which Musk “dangles hope over the heads of millions, then sticks the DoD with the bill for a system no one asked for but now so many depend on.”

“Elon’s gonna Elon,” the official added.

CNN reported in depth on the controversy, quoting a U.S. official attacking Musk (excerpt):

Though Musk has received widespread acclaim and thanks for responding to requests for Starlink service to Ukraine right as the war was starting, in reality, the vast majority of the 20,000 terminals have received full or partial funding from outside sources, including the US government, the UK and Poland, according to the SpaceX letter to the Pentagon.

SpaceX’s request that the US military foot the bill has rankled top brass at the Pentagon, with one senior defense official telling CNN that SpaceX has “the gall to look like heroes” while having others pay so much and now presenting them with a bill for tens of millions per month.

According to the SpaceX figures shared with the Pentagon, about 85% of the 20,000 terminals in Ukraine were paid – or partially paid – for by countries like the US and Poland or other entities. Those entities also paid for about 30% of the internet connectivity, which SpaceX says costs $4,500 each month per unit for the most advanced service. (Over the weekend, Musk tweeted there are around 25,000 terminals in Ukraine.)

In his July letter to Musk, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Gen. Zaluzhniy, praised the Starlink units’ “exceptional utility” and said some 4,000 terminals had been deployed by the military. However, around 500 terminals per month are destroyed in the fighting, Zaluzhniy said, before asking for 6,200 more terminals for the Ukrainian military and intelligence services and 500 per month going forward to offset the losses.

SpaceX said they responded by asking Zaluzhniy to instead take up his request to the Department of Defense.

On September 8, the senior director of government sales for SpaceX wrote the Pentagon saying the costs have gotten too high, approaching $100 million. The official asked the Department of Defense to pick up Ukraine’s new request as well as ongoing service costs, totaling $124 million for the remainder of 2022.

Those costs, according to the senior defense official, would reach almost $380 million for a full year.

Musk commented earlier Friday on the costs for supporting Ukraine with Starlink, “In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations & pay telcos for access to Internet via gateways. We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching ~$20M/month.”

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Kristinn Taylor has contributed to The Gateway Pundit for over ten years. Mr. Taylor previously wrote for Breitbart, worked for Judicial Watch and was co-leader of the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com. He studied journalism in high school, visited the Newseum and once met David Brinkley.

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