Elon Musk said Friday that his space company could not keep funding the Starlink satellite service that has kept Ukraine and its military online during the war, and he suggested he was pulling free internet after a Ukrainian ambassador insulted him on Twitter. A Starlink cutoff would cripple the Ukrainian military’s main mode of communication and potentially hamstring its defenses by giving a major advantage to Russia, which has sought to jam signals and phone service in the eastern and southern combat zones. Musk, the world’s richest man by Bloomberg estimates, tweeted from the United States that his company SpaceX does not want reimbursement for its past expenses in helping Ukraine. But, he wrote, it “also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely and send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable.” He also taunted Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, who had some choice words for Musk last week after the Tesla chief executive tweeted a proposal to end the war in Ukraine that would favor Russia.
“F— off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” Melnyk said at the time.
“We’re just following his recommendation,” Musk tweeted early Friday. The ambassador declined to comment Friday, while his press representative told The Washington Post that his previous comment had been a specific response to Musk’s tweet about peace negotiations.