Musk threatens to pull plug on Ukraine's Starlink

Besides the need to make sure funding stays in place for Ukraine’s vital internet connections, and besides Musk stamping his foot and holding his breath until he turns blue, there are many important questions and issues raised here…

Please excuse my French, but the f—-ing richest person in the world will stop donating very essential communications from his Starlink satellite systems because a Ukrainian diplomat used the “f” word and told him they will not follow his BS “peace plan” and surrender territory to Russia? And the US should should pay the bill for Ukraine to continue to use Starlink? Maybe the US government should rethink the billions of dollars in subsidies it provides Tesla and SpaceX every year and give that money to Ukraine instead:


In contrast to how Elon Musk has changed his support of Ukraine, here’s what Tim Cook is doing at Apple:


Grace and good judgement are not qualities I will ever associate with that man. Time and time again his personality and actions undercut how I think about the achievements he has made.


I’m not a big fan of Musk, but I actually thought his request wasn’t unreasonable, and he’s now agreed to continue to have SpaceX pay the costs anyway.

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Tesla stock hadn’t been doing well and the picture was getting worse and worse very quickly when the news got out that Musk wasn’t as big a donor as he presented himself to be. If Tesla stock kept rapidly tanking, chances were pretty good that he could loose his ranking as the richest person in the world rather quickly. The news could have continued to go from bad to worse. I’ll bet his PR people helped convince him to open Tesla’s wallet. It was bad enough that he was exposed that he was not as big a donor as he had appeared to be.

As noted at Moon of Alabama, the Russians appear to have succeeded in interrupting the Starlink communications a couple weeks ago. So besides a massive retooling, Kiev likely also needs a great deal of new ground stations to replace those lost in battle. Kiev is completely dependent on the generosity of others, which is obviously not sustainable to the degree they demand, neither from private citizens nor from other nations.

“ Speaking to reporters on Friday, a Pentagon spokesperson said the agency was reviewing its options.

“There’s not just SpaceX, there are other entities that we can certainly partner with when it comes to providing Ukraine with what they need on the battlefield,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said when asked about the report. “I’m not going to show our hand right now on exactly what those are or who we’re talking to.”

“ Viasat, a California-based satellite communications company, said Friday it is providing support in Ukraine and the region, including providing free community Wi-Fi for Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia.”

Here’s one of very many reasons why I never refer to, consider to be credible, or even look at, Moon Of Alabama:

The New York Times continues its shameless pro-Ukrainian propaganda campaign that is deceiving its readers.”

Moon of Alabama cites, among others, pro-war US Representative Adam
Kinzinger and the Financial Times for the information. You do yourself a
disservice by prejudicially dismissing it.

Wow, that’s a remarkable site: “not even wrong” is the first thought that came to my mind.

Editorializing aside, neither Kinzinger nor the FT said that it was the Russians disrupting Starlink and the FT article suggests that it was limits created by Starlink itself. So the MoA article was interpolating way too far in coming to that conclusion.

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As you note, the Financial Times cites speculation that it was disabled
to prevent Russian use. And Moon of Alabama cites the Russian Tirada 2
system and that it had been sighted in the Donbas. In any case, the
Starlink system is no longer working for the Kiev front line forces.

There’s a giant difference between Starlink being responsible for the outages and the Russians.

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Musk wanted the government to pay for Starlink in Ukraine, and there you are. He’s strange old boy: acquisitive, greedy, and pugnacious.

And he’s got a good PR department.

“ In Ukraine, after the Russian invasion disrupted internet access, the deployment of Musk’s satellite dishes earned him international press adulation and a bevy of lucrative government contracts. In Ukraine, though, Starlink was welcomed by a profoundly pro-American government desperate for technological aid from the West. U.S. government agencies were able to ship the requisite hardware with the full logistical cooperation of the Ukrainian government.

This is not, to say the very least, the case in Iran, where the government is unlikely to condone the import of a technology explicitly meant to undermine its own power. While Musk’s claim that Starlink’s orbiting satellites are activated over Iran may be true, the notion that censorship-free internet connectivity is something that can be flipped on like a light switch is certainly not. Without dishes on the ground to communicate with the satellites, it’s a meaningless step: technologically tantamount to giving a speech to an empty room.”

Another way to look at it is that his company provided an amazing service at a time when nobody else could, at a great deal of expense, for well over six months, a service which helped turn the attention of the world to Russian aggression and provided Ukrainian military with a service that turned around the war, plus helped Ukraine evacuate their citizens more safely than they could, and it became a drain on the company and they decided to ask for government entities else to help fund it going forward. And when the reaction was much like some of the reactions here - a rich old man looking for a handout - the company changed its mind.

The decision to provide this was heroic and IMO Starlink and Musk should be applauded and, really, how many other companies would have done the same after six to seven months on unexpected expenditures?

(Again, this is coming from somebody who is not a fan generally of Elon Musk.)

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“ SpaceX’s letter, according to CNN, specified that Starlink operations would cost more than $120 million for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months. Specifically, CNN quoted the letter as saying that about 85 percent of the 20,000 terminals [provided at the letter’s time] in Ukraine were paid — or partially paid — for by the US, the United Kingdom, Poland or private entities. Those entities also paid for about 30 percent of the internet connectivity, which SpaceX says costs $4,500 each month per unit for the most advanced service.

But in an Oct. 7 tweet, Musk said that the company’s operations in Ukraine has cost $80 million and will exceed 100 million by the end of the year.

“I think everyone agrees that if there’s a reasonable cost-based argument that paying for use does make sense,” Farrar said. The problem, he said, is that the company’s “numbers are constantly changing. … I think Elon has made that more difficult rather than less difficult because you don’t normally negotiate your weapons contracts on Twitter.”

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Quoted for emphasis. :+1: