After a sometimes difficult relationship, the Ukrainian government has praised US company SpaceX, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, for helping it to maximize the use of the Starlink high-speed mobile satellite terminals, APA reports citing UNIAN.
Ukraine's Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Interfax that the ministry had brought in more than 22,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine with the help of international donors and SpaceX.
"We are in direct communication with both SpaceX and Elon Musk," he said. "We did have certain problems in temporary occupied territories and in combat areas, but this is in the past."
Musk had public disagreements with the Ukrainian government over who should finance the cost of providing bandwidth and other support for the Starlink terminals, and over his ideas for negotiating an end to the conflict.
In October, CNN exclusively reported that SpaceX asked the US Defense Department to help pay for the service, saying that the "operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year."
SpaceX warned the Pentagon that it might stop funding the service in Ukraine unless the US military kicked in tens of millions of dollars per month. But subsequently, Musk tweeted: “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.”
Fedorov indicated the relationship was now on a much better footing.
"If there is a connectivity problem at the frontline, SpaceX helps us to solve it very fast for Starlinks to work. There have been some public discussions as to financial issues, but Musk has both publicly and privately assured that Starlink will keep working no matter what financial issues will arise," he said.
"We are now discussing purchasing another big shipment of thousands of Starlinks for Ukraine. I get very fast feedback. I see that they want to help us and they are helping," he added.