After SpaceX asked the Pentagon to pick up the tab for funding Starlink's satellite services in Ukraine, the European Union is considering to pay for the services. The EU fears that SpaceX might cut off the services abruptly, which will affect wartime communication for the Ukraine army.
EU's chief diplomat Josep Borrell raised this issue at a EU meeting on Monday. The discussions are still at an early stage.
Elon Musk said that Ukraine's Starlink operations has already cost SpaceX $80 million, which will exceed to more than $100 million by the end of this year. The satellite internet will cost nearly $400 million for 2023.
Elon Musk tweeted that out of 25,300 terminals sent to Ukraine, only 10,630 are paying for service.
Yesterday however, Elon Musk confirmed that SpaceX will continue funding operations in Ukraine even though Starlink is losing money. There are concerns within EU that Elon Musk might still cut the services off.
"For the time being, let's be happy that he is paying for it. But we need to be on the safe side," an EU official told the Financial Times. "The Ukrainians are very worried that he will still cut it off."
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico that 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.’ And the next day, Ukrainians might find themselves without the internet.”
“I figured that it's probably way better to have this as a contractual agreement between, let's say, 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.”
An official contract will make SpaceX bound to provide services in Ukraine. The discussions also come as Kyiv reported outages of Starlink devices on the frontline in recent weeks.
The EU is exploring alternative satellite connectivity options as well. The Pentagon disclosed having talks with SpaceX for funding the services, while also exploring other alternatives.