The US government paid millions of dollars to send Elon Musk-run satellite internet service Starlink terminals to Ukraine, a report has claimed. SpaceX had earlier denied any such move.
The Washington Post report revealed that the Joe Biden government actually paid millions of dollars for equipment and transportation.
The report that came out late on Friday found that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) paid $1,500 apiece for 1,333 terminals, adding up to around $2 million.
The USAID said earlier this week that it has delivered 5,000 Starlink Terminals to the government of Ukraine through a public-private partnership with the American aerospace manufacturer, SpaceX.
According to the report, it’s still unclear if Ukraine received standard terminals, which SpaceX currently charges $600 for, or the advanced terminals that cost $2,500.
The Starlink satellite terminals will enable unlimited, unthrottled data connectivity from anywhere in Ukraine.
The terminals will allow public officials and critical citizen service providers to continue to communicate within Ukraine and with the outside world, even if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal aggression severs Ukraine’s fibre optic or cellular communication infrastructure connections, according to USAID.
The satellite internet connectivity of Ukraine was taken offline permanently by a cyberattack on the day of the Russian invasion on February 24.
SpaceX has delivered 3,667 satellites at a cost of “roughly $10 million,” with USAID purchasing the remaining 1,333 terminals, according to an earlier USAID release.
On February 26, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister, also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, called Musk for help as Ukraine fought off an invasion and sustained cyberattacks by Russian forces.
In response, Musk promised to send a truck full of Starlink user terminals to Ukraine.