The Pentagon will pay for SpaceX's Starlink in Ukraine months after Elon Musk complained and asked it to pick up the bill
- The Pentagon announced Thursday it will pay SpaceX for Ukraine to use its Starlink service, per Bloomberg.
- It comes after Elon Musk complained that donated terminals were costing his company too much money.
The Pentagon said Thursday it will pay for the Ukrainian military to use SpaceX's Starlink, Bloomberg first reported — months after Elon Musk complained it was costing him too much and asked the government to pick up the bill.
Starlink provides internet coverage through over 4,000 satellites, and has been vital for communications in Ukraine as it allows soldiers and citizens to stay online while Russia targets its infrastructure.
Last June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Wired that Starlink "helped us a lot, in many moments related to the blockade of our cities, towns, and related to the occupied territories."
But in October, Musk grew concerned over how much the operation was costing SpaceX, which had donated Starlink units to Ukraine.
The billionaire said "only a small percentage" of Starlink terminals had been paid for, and the cost would exceed $100 million by the end of 2022.
Documents obtained by CNN showed SpaceX had requested the Pentagon funded this instead, claiming it could cost $400 million over a year.
"We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time," SpaceX's director of government sales said, per CNN.
The Pentagon will now fund Ukraine's use of Starlink via a Department of Defense contract, with SpaceX expected to be paid out of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, per the Financial Times.
"We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need," the Pentagon said in a statement. "Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine's overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type."
"However, for operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems – we do not have additional information regarding specific capabilities, contracts or partners to provide at this time," it added.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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