In February, soon after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Musk agreed to direct a host of Starlink terminals to the war-torn nation to restore communications and internet facilities. At that time, it was seen to be a selfless and generous move on the part of Musk, but recently, the American billionaire informed that SpaceX can no longer keep on funding the Starlink network in Ukraine.

Soon after Musk made the announcement, the billionaire seems to have changed his mind. He informed that SpaceX will continue to fund Starlink satellite internet terminals, thereby helping Ukrainian forces defend their lands from Russian troops, “for free.”

“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,” read a tweet by Musk. The US military also confirmed that it was in talks with SpaceX about funding Starlink’s service in Ukraine.

This is a complete U-turn from Musk’s decision on Friday, as was evident from his tweets. “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely,” he tweeted on Friday, adding that SpaceX could no longer “send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households.”

Another report by CNN highlighted that SpaceX had requested the Pentagon to foot the bill, since Musk’s space company was “not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” according to a letter written by SpaceX’s director of government sales to the Pentagon.

So far, approximately 25,000 Starlink terminals have been deployed to Ukraine, and according to Musk, the operation cost the company $80 million, an amount that would exceed $100 million by the end of the year, and according to a report by CNN, nearly $400 million over the next 12 months. He added that only a “small percentage” of Starlink’s terminals and internet service has been paid for. When someone commented that about 150,000 people in Ukraine use Starlink’s service daily (as of May 2, 2022), Musk replied that he was in “regular contact” with Fedorov.

For its part, Starlink has played an instrumental role in rebooting Ukraine’s key infrastructure even as the country remains besieged by Russian forces for months. Starlink’s terminals and internet network helped both the military and civilians to stay online, and Fedorov acknowledged the billionaire as “among the world’s top private donors supporting Ukraine.” “Starlink is an essential element of our critical infrastructure,” he wrote.