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Politico: Pentagon, EU ponder funding Ukraine’s access to Starlink

by The Kyiv Independent news desk October 18, 2022 2:03 AM 2 min read
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The Pentagon is mulling over funding Ukraine's use of Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink satellite network with the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a fund that the U.S. uses to supply military assistance to Ukraine over the long term, two U.S. officials involved in the deliberations told Politico.

The deliberations come after CNN reported that SpaceX had sent a letter last month to the Pentagon suggesting the U.S. government foot the bill for Ukraine's access to the network. Musk later changed his mind, saying his company would carry on funding for the service.

EU countries are also discussing whether to contribute funding to tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service to keep it working in Ukraine, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico.

Landsbergis said it was better to have “a coalition of countries that could purchase a service from Mr. Musk, the Starlink service, and provide it to the Ukrainians and keep on providing it to Ukrainians.”

He suggested Ukraine’s internet access should not be left in the hands of a single “super-powerful” person who could “wake up one day and say, ‘This is no longer what I feel like doing and this is it.’"

Starlink donated the terminals to Ukraine when Russia started its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24 over fears Ukrainians would lose access to the internet.

How Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet keeps Ukraine online

In the background of the debate over funding is the tumultuous conversation that started on Oct. 4 when Musk posted a poll on Twitter proposing a several-point plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Musk suggested that RussianCrimea should be recognized as a part of Russia, Ukraine must stay neutral, and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts should hold a vote “under UN supervision” on whether they want to be a part of Russia or Ukraine.

This “plan” was seen as heavily pro-Russian and caused a storm of replies from Ukrainians and supporters of Ukraine, including President Volodymyr Zelensky. Musk wrote back to Zelensky: “I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”

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