Elon Musk loves to get into Twitter fights, but his new beef with Ukraine could have major consequences after an insult apparently prompted him to pull his free Starlink satellite internet from the country.
Musk's company SpaceX is claiming that it can no longer afford to donate free satellites to Ukraine and now is throwing the responsibility to pick up the bill on the U.S. government. Either the U.S. pays or the satellites leave.
However, that doesn't seem to be the only motivation. A Ukrainian politician told him to "f*ck off" with his Russia-friendly peace plan earlier this month, and on Friday Musk blamed that comment for the satellite move.
"We're just following his recommendation," Musk tweeted in response to news of the Starlink decision.
We’re just following his recommendation 🤷♂️ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2022
Musk originally sent the satellites to help Ukraine stay connected in its fight against Russia back in February, and according to CNN and Politico, they've apparently been a huge help in the war. Cell towers have been knocked down during the fight, but the satellites have allowed Ukrainians to stay connected.
But Musk has fallen into a public feud with some of the country's leaders on Twitter, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after he pitched his own "peace proposal" in a tweet earlier this month.
Musk suggested that Ukraine should give up the Russian-seized region of Crimea and then let the United Nations supervise a vote in other Russian-occupied territories to see if they, too, "want" to leave.
Obviously, considering his lack of knowledge on the geopolitical issue, his suggestions didn't sit well with many, particularly Ukrainians, and the country's ambassador to Germany ultimately told him to "f*ck off" via tweet.
Musk seems to have taken the disagreement to heart and is warning Pentagon that he will pull the roughly 20,000 Starlink satellite units he loaned to Ukraine if they don't pitch into the cost.
"This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year," Musk tweeted after the Financial Times reported Starlink outages in Ukraine on Friday.
Bad reporting by FT. This article falsely claims that Starlink terminals & service were paid for, when only a small percentage have been.
This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year.
As for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 7, 2022
A letter obtained by CNN that was sent to the Pentagon by SpaceX's director of government sales said, "we are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time."
SpaceX also said the satellites could cost over $12 million for the remaining year and almost $400 million in the next 12 months.