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Elon Musk asks Pentagon to pick up the tab for satellite services in Ukraine

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has provided a vital source of communication to Ukraine with the help of its Starlink satellite internet terminals. Russia had destroyed cellphone and internet networks and these terminals had helped Ukraine’s military to fight as well as to stay connected. Now, CEO Elon Musk wants the Pentagon to foot the bill. Although Musk has received acclaim for providing the service, in reality, SpaceX has received full or partial funding from outside sources including the US government, the UK and Poland.

In an exclusive report CNN said that it saw SpaceX documents sent to the Pentagon that requested the Pentagon to take charge of funding of the military and government use of Starlink by the Ukrainian government. The outlet also saw an unreported direct request made in July by Ukrainian military’s commanding general, General Valerii Zalunzhniy. It asked for almost 8,000 additional terminals.

On Friday, Elon Musk said that he was following the advice of a Ukrainian diplomat who had asked him to “F*** off” when he had proposed a peace plan, earlier in the month. Musk mentioned it as the reason he asked the Pentagon to pick up the Starlink bill, in Ukraine.

All these letters have come when Starlink is facing major outages in Ukraine. Elon Musk said that the outages of what happened in the battlefield was classified. He also reportedly refused to facilitate the use of Starlink in Crimea, when asked by the Ukrainian military.

Most of the terminals have been donated but SpaceX said that it has paid for the services of about 70 percent of the terminals in Ukraine. It says that it offered the $4,500 connectivity though a majority in Ukraine signed for the cheaper monthly service which is $500.

According to the outlet, a person familiar with the matter said that Musk was either “trying to get money from the government or just trying to say ‘I don’t want to be part of this anymore.'”

Elon Musk’s lawyer did not reply when requested for a comment. Bob Ditchey, who is the Defense Department spokesman, told CNN, “The Department continues to work with industry to explore solutions for Ukraine’s armed forces as they repel Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression. We do not have anything else to add at this time.”

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