Ukraine Bit the Hand that Fed It Starlink, and Elon Musk’s Response Is One for the Books

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had been providing his Starlink satellite internet service on his dime for some time. It had been a valuable addition to the war effort, but now Musk is looking to pass the bill off to another government after one Ukrainian leader told him to “f** off.”

It all started when Musk posted a poll on Twitter about how peace in Ukraine might be achieved through a series of decisions.

– Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if that is will of the people.

– Crimea formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).

– Water supply to Crimea assured.

– Ukraine remains neutral.

The “yes or no” poll came out with “no” being the winner by a solid margin, prompting Musk to agree with one Twitter user that the outcome was one of the biggest bot attacks he’d ever seen. Regardless of the poll results, Musk tweeted that this outcome he posted in the poll was the most likely to happen in the end, with another potential, but unlikely, outcome being nuclear war.

Ukrainian leaders had a problem with this poll. Crimea is seen by western allies as Ukrainian and Ukraine’s inclusion into NATO is something it’s pursued heavily since the war started. Musk’s poll was seen as being pro-Russian despite Musk saying that it should be put to a vote.

One response to the poll came from Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, who was not at all kind to Musk.

“F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you Elon Musk,” tweeted Melnyk.

Fast forward to Friday and Musk has now declared Starlink too expensive to continue giving away for free and is now asking the Pentagon to foot the bill. Jason Jay Smart of the Belarus Post tweeted about Musk’s move to have the U.S. government pick up the tab causing Musk to respond.

“We’re just following his recommendation,” tweeted Musk.

To give you some perspective on cost, Musk responded to a person on Twitter asking how much it cost to maintain Starlink in the country.

“In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations & pay telcos for access to Internet via gateways,” tweeted Musk. “We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching ~$20M/month.”

That’s a big price tag for a war effort that is apparently going unappreciated by Ukrainian leadership and Musk wanting to pass off the costs to someone else in order to stop his company from a bleed that intense isn’t outside the realm of reason.

Regardless, if someone is giving you something integral to a war effort for free, the last thing you want to do is insult the man. While Musk isn’t taking Starlink offline, it’s perfectly fine for him to walk away at any given moment while getting someone else far more concerned to pay for it. Actual diplomacy would have looked a little different than what Melnyk did. You’d figure he’d know that as an ambassador.

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