NEW YORK, October 14. /TASS/. US company SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, has notified the US Department of Defense that it can no longer pay for Starlink satellite communication services, provided to Ukraine, CNN reported citing documents that it had obtained.
"We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time," the broadcaster quoted a letter from SpaceX’s director of government sales, sent to the Pentagon in September.
According to the report, the letter contained a request to the US Department of Defense to pay for deliveries of additional Starlink terminals to the Kiev government, and to take over funding for Ukraine’s use of the system for governmental and military purposes.
Overall, the costs would amount to $124 million for the rest of the year.
CNN said that around 85% of Starlink terminals provided to Ukraine were financed by third parties, including the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland. They also covered around 30% of operational costs for Ukraine.
On October 7, the Financial Times quoted Ukrainian officials as saying that Starlink began to malfunction in the zone of Russia's special military operation. "Catastrophic" outages were recorded in the Donbass, Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov regions. The daily said the failures caused panic in the Ukrainian army. Ukrainian experts interviewed by the FT voiced the suspicion that the communication problems in these regions might have been due to a deliberate decision by SpaceX to restrict access on the Russia-controlled territory. The disruptions are indicative of a lack of cooperation between Ukraine's military leadership and SpaceX, the analysts said.
The founder and the biggest shareholder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, declined to comment on those reports, saying that this information was confidential.
On February 27, Musk announced that he had opened access to his Starlink global satellite communication system in Ukraine. In March, US media reported that the Ukrainian army was using the Starlink satellites for strikes against Russian troops, as there were no alternative communication channels. On October 3, Musk said that SpaceX had spent $80 million to launch and maintain Starlink in Ukraine.