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Elon Musk changes course, says SpaceX will keep Starlink online in Ukraine

Oct. 24 (UPI) — Elon Musk vowed his company SpaceX will keep providing Internet access to Ukraine with its Starlink satellite, after saying he could no longer afford it days before.

Musk asked the Pentagon to begin funding the use of Starlink in Ukraine earlier this month, after stating it would cost SpaceX $100 million by the end of the year. On Sunday, Musk tweeted that he assured Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov that Starlink would remain online even if the Department of Defense declined funding. Fedorov replied with his appreciation for Musk’s decision.

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“Thanks @elonmusk. Before all the talks about funding, you confirmed to me that in any case you will ensure the work of Starlinks in Ukraine. This was critically important for Ukraine. We are grateful to you!” Fedorov tweeted.

Starlink has been a crucial asset to Ukraine’s efforts to continue its counteroffensive against the invasion from Russia. Its Internet access allows Ukrainian soldiers to communicate on the battlefield, coordinate artillery fire and operate drones.

The country’s telecommunications network has been a target for Russia’s attack. An estimated 4,000 base stations have been destroyed.

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On Oct. 15, Musk aired his frustration over his contribution to Ukraine, tweeting “To hell with it,” Starlink will keep funding the Ukrainian government “for free,” despite losing money.

This came a day after Musk said he would not continue providing Starlink. Musk’s announcement, again on Twitter, was met with backlash. He also said he was following the advice of Ukrainian diplomat and former Ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk. In response to a tweet from Musk suggesting Ukraine give up territory in Kyiv to Russia, Melnyk tweeted, “[Expletive] off is my very diplomatic reply to you.”

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