Elon Musk has never been more alarmed than he is now.
The billionaire, deeply embroiled in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine after the invasion of Moscow on February 24, fears that we are heading toward all-out war with the possibility of a nuclear confrontation.
The billionaire warned on October 9 that “the possibility of nuclear war is rising rapidly.”
The warning also concerns the products manufactured by his own companies and above all the most famous. This is Starlink, the secure and independent internet access service that has become a window of hope for people living under dictatorships all over the world.
Musk and his space company SpaceX supplied Starlink to Ukraine, after Russia destroyed Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure.
Starlink is especially used by civilians in areas under attack by Russia and in areas where infrastructure has been destroyed. Government officials and armed forces use the service on the ground because it is safe.
The company’s satellites are helping Ukrainian military drones destroy Russian tanks and army trucks. The drones are equipped with anti-tank grenades for firing at targets.
But controversy has erupted in recent days over the financing of Starlink’s use in Ukraine. Musk and SpaceX are asking the US government, through the Department of Defense, to cover part of the cost in the coming months or they will have to cut it because the company no longer has the means to do so.
“We are not in a position to donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund existing ones for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote in a letter to the Pentagon last September.
On October 7, Musk said that providing Starlink in Ukraine “cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.” The figure could reach $400 million for the next 12 months.
Starlink may ‘die’
Musk explains that this request is supported by the fact that the service has become the only means that allows the Ukrainian armed forces to communicate both at the front level and with the General Staff.
This makes the service a frequent target of Russian cyberattacks, forcing SpaceX to dedicate many resources to countering these attacks. These efforts translate into additional costs.
“Starlink is the primary communications system for the Ukrainian Army at the war front. If anyone else wants this job, please be my guest…” Musk posted on Twitter on October 14.
In the face of critics who see SpaceX’s request as a way to get public funding, the billionaire replied that the service has almost become a military tool for a NATO-backed country. So it would make sense for NATO or the Pentagon to bear the costs.
Otherwise, Musk came up with a grim prediction: Starlink might die.
It all started with a post from a Twitter user accusing the billionaire of seeking public funding for his own projects.
The user said: “Do you attribute global infrastructure expenditures to Ukraine and try to get government funding for it? $240 million a year just for Ukraine is meaningless. This means that the whole system loses more than $10 billion a year,” the user said.
The billionaire replied, “A big difference between demands for peace versus war commissions.” “Starlink is the only communications system still operating on the battlefronts – the others are all dead. Russia is trying hard to kill Starlink. For protection, SpaceX has funneled huge resources toward defense.”
Then he added, “Still, Starlink may still be dying.”
“Starlink is all that’s left. For now”
He then provided additional details in an effort to prove that SpaceX’s allegations are not outlandish.
“Internet fibres, telephone lines, cell towers, and other satellite communications have been destroyed in war zones.”
Then he pressured the Pentagon and NATO countries that support Ukraine by warning that the possibility of Starlink’s disappearance was real.
“Starlink is all that’s left. For now.”
He added several hours later: “The amount SpaceX is asking for a significant advantage on the battlefield is less than the cost of a new GPS satellite. Ironically, GPS does not work on the battlefield, because the signal is easy Obfuscation, but Starlink does it.”
These alarming statements alarmed millions of his fans and users on social networks.
“Elon, is the SpaceX / Starlink service in Ukraine still under constant attack by Russian hackers?” asked one user.
“Of course,” Musk replied. “And the signal jamming systems are getting better.”