The US is quietly paying millions to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine, contrary to SpaceX claims
After Russia launched its invasion, Ukrainian officials pleaded for Elon Musk’s SpaceX to dispatch their Starlink terminals to the region to boost Internet access. “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk replied to broad online fanfare. Since then, the company has cast the actions in part as a charitable gesture. “I’m proud that we were able to provide the terminals to folks in Ukraine,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said, later adding, “I don’t think the US has given us any money to give terminals to Ukraine.” But according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, the US federal government is in fact paying millions of dollars for a significant portion of the equipment and for the transportation costs to get it to Ukraine. On April 5, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it has purchased more than 1,330 terminals from SpaceX to send to Ukraine, while the company donated nearly 3,670 terminals and the Internet service itself. While the agency initially called it a “private sector donation valued at roughly $10 million,” it did not specify how much it is contributing for the equipment or for the cost of transportation. Sometime after the announcement, the agency removed key details from its release. It now states that USAID “has delivered 5,000 Starlink Terminals” to Ukraine “through a public-private partnership” with SpaceX but does not specify the quantity nor value of the donations.
U.S. quietly paying millions to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine, contrary to SpaceX claims