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SpaceX cannot fund Ukraine’s Starlink internet indefinitely, Musk says

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk said on Friday that his company SpaceX cannot “indefinitely” fund the Starlink internet service in Ukraine and send it several thousands more terminals after a report suggested that his rocket company had asked the Pentagon to pay for the donations.

The billionaire’s comment on the question of support for the internet service in Ukraine comes after he angered many Ukrainians with a proposal to end Russia’s war in their country that included ceding some territory.

“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely and send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100-times greater than typical households. This is unreasonable,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added that it costs approximately USD 20 mln a month to maintain satellite services in Ukraine and SpaceX had spent some USD 80 mln to enable and support Starlink in the war-torn country.

Mr Musk activated Starlink in Ukraine in late February after internet services were disrupted because of Russia’s invasion. SpaceX has since given it thousands of terminals.

Ukraine’s deputy PM Mykhailo Fedorov said that Starlink services helped restore energy and communications infrastructure in critical areas after more than 100 Russian cruise missile attacks.

The investigation
Meanwhile, the billionaire is being investigated by federal authorities over his conduct in his USD 44 bn takeover deal for Twitter Inc, the social media company wrote in a court filing released on Thursday.

Twitter, which sued him in July to force him to close the deal, said attorneys for the Tesla’s CEO had claimed “investigative privilege” when refusing to hand over documents it had sought.

In late September, Mr Musk’s attorneys had provided a “privilege log” identifying documents to be withheld, Twitter reported. The log referenced drafts of a May 13 email to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a slide presentation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“This game of ‘hide the ball’ must end,” the company said in the court filing.

The filing, which asked Delaware judge Kathaleen McCormick to order Mr Musk’s attorneys to provide the documents, was made on October 6 – the same day that Ms McCormick paused litigation between the two sides after the billionaire reversed course and said he would proceed with the deal.

The SEC has questioned Elon Musk’s comments about the Twitter acquisition, including whether a nine percent stake he had built up before announcing his bid had been disclosed late and why it indicated that he intended to be a passive shareholder. Mr Musk later refiled the disclosure to indicate he was an active investor.

In June, the SEC asked him in a letter whether he should have amended his public filing to reflect his intention to suspend or abandon the deal.

The Information, a tech news site, reported in April that the FTC was scrutinising whether the billionaire failed to comply with the antitrust reporting requirement relating to an investor’s intentions of being a passive or active shareholder.

Twitter said in June, however, that the takeover deal with him had cleared an antitrust waiting period for review by the FTC and US Justice Department.

Ms McCormick has given Mr Musk until October 28 to close the acquisition. If the deal does not get done by then, a trial date will be set for November.

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