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Sun, Oct 30, 2022

Pentagon Considers Paying Ukraine’s Starlink Bill

The Rigors of Discourtesy

The Russo-Ukrainian conflict is a deeply-polarizing matter that begs consideration of the lengths to which the United States might go were Canada to petition for membership in the Russian Federation. Since the commencement of hostilities in February 2022, Congress has plied $54-billion in U.S. taxpayers' monies to the sustainment of the conflict.

That rudimentary diplomacy could have precluded the war in Ukraine is a certainty shared by statesmen and ordinary citizens across the world. Among the most outspoken proponents of a diplomatic resolution to the macabre Eastern European spectacle of political theater and wholesale slaughter is SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose Starlink satellite internet constellation—at the request of the Ukrainian government—has replaced internet services destroyed by invading Russian forces.

Since March 2022, SpaceX has provided Starlink services to Ukraine’s government and people free of charge—a munificent gesture that, to date, has cost Musk $80-million, and will, by year’s end, have left a $100-million dent in the billionaire entrepreneur’s pocketbook.

On 3 October 2022, Musk tweeted out a peace proposal calling for Ukraine to cede Crimea to Russia, hold a free election to decide whether additional Ukrainian lands would pass into Moscow’s control, and commit Kyiv to remain neutral between the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk invited Musk to “f*ck off.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy construed Musk’s tweet support for Russia, and took to his own Starlink-enabled device to fire back: “Which @elonmusk do you like more? One who supports Ukraine or one who supports Russia?”

On 14 October 2022, Musk indicated that he could no longer provide Starlink internet services to Ukraine gratis.

Musk’s elegant riposte prompted journalist Jason Jay Smart of the Kyiv Post to tweet: “Elon Musk’s Starlink says it can no longer afford to give Ukraine free service and asks the Pentagon to pay for it. Starlink had been a game changer in the war. This comes days after Ukrainian Ambassador @MelnykAndrij told Musk to ‘f*ck off.’”

Musk replied to Smart, tweeting, “We’re just following his [Melnyk’s] recommendation.”

Adverse to allowing a profitable war to go to waste, the Pentagon—according to two U.S. officials involved in germane deliberations—is considering picking up Ukraine’s Starlink tab by delving into the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a fund devised to provide long-term support to the Ukrainian military by financing contracts with American firms for weapons and battlefield equipment.

The U.S. Department of Defense—notwithstanding having made public its intention to continue discussions with SpaceX in the hope of finding a way forward—has stated that it is considering alternative means by which to keep the Russo-Ukrainian war digitally connected to the world it impudently and unapologetically threatens.

Nearer to the falling bombs, however, a top Ukrainian diplomat has stated that Kyiv remains hopeful that an arrangement can be made to keep Starlink operating.

FMI: www.starlink.com

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