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  4. SpaceX president was reportedly upset that Elon Musk kept financing Starlink in Ukraine before Pentagon deal: 'Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter'

SpaceX president was reportedly upset that Elon Musk kept financing Starlink in Ukraine before Pentagon deal: 'Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter'

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SpaceX president was reportedly upset that Elon Musk kept financing Starlink in Ukraine before Pentagon deal: 'Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter'
  • SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell was upset when Elon Musk kept financing Starlink in Ukraine, per a new book.
  • Musk had reportedly told the Pentagon Starlink equipment could no longer be sent to Ukraine for free.

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell was upset when Elon Musk kept financing Starlink in Ukraine even after the Pentagon offered to fund the enterprise, author Walter Isaacson wrote in a recent excerpt from his biography on Musk.

"The Pentagon had a $145 million check ready to hand to me, literally," Shotwell said, according to Isaacson. "Then Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter and to the haters at the Pentagon who leaked the story."

Shotwell, Musk, and spokespeople for SpaceX and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

Shotwell's comments came after SpaceX told the US Department of Defense the rocket company couldn't keep paying for satellite equipment for Ukraine in September 2022, saying that the equipment could cost more than $100 million by the end of the year, CNN reported at the time. SpaceX had spent millions of dollars sending Starlink terminals to Ukraine, Musk told Isaacson.

But, after the CNN report sparked ire toward Musk on social media, the billionaire changed course.

"The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we'll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free," Musk posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, in October.

Isaacson, who shadowed Musk for about three years in preparation for the biography, said SpaceX later came to an agreement with the Department of Defense earlier this year for the Pentagon to pay for an additional 100,000 new Starlink dishes to be sent to Ukraine. In June, Bloomberg reported that SpaceX had won a deal with the Pentagon for it to pay for the satellite service in Ukraine.

Starlink has been instrumental in allowing Ukraine to overcome Russian cyberattacks. On February 24 — one hour before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine — the nation hacked the satellite provider that was used by the Ukrainian military, per US and UK intelligence reports. Two days after the attack, Musk shipped Starlink dishes to Ukraine within hours of a request for Starlink terminals from Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine.

However, the biographer said Musk has since started to question SpaceX's involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

"Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars," Isaacson said Musk told him. "It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes."

Isaacson reported that Musk told SpaceX staff to eliminate Starlink satellite network availability near Russian-controlled Crimea last year in order to prevent it from being used in a Ukrainian attack on Russia. The biographer said Musk made the call because he was concerned the attack on Russia could prompt a nuclear attack.

Last year, political analyst Ian Bremmer first reported in a newsletter that Musk had denied a Ukrainian request to enable the use of Starlink in Crimea. More recently, Ronan Farrow reported that Musk's power over the satellite network has led Ukraine and the US government to treat him like an "unelected official."

Farrow reported in New York Magazine that Musk had told Pentagon officials in October that he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone regarding the conflict with Ukraine. That same month Musk posted a poll on X that included ideas for ending the war in Ukraine and appeared to parrot Russia's agenda, according to Ukrainian officials. Musk also said he was "obviously" pro-Ukraine and said later in October that he had only spoken to Putin once, around 18 months previously, and the two had talked about space.

Read the full excerpt on CNN's website.


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