Elon Musk is again under fire.
This time it is because he threatened to cut off financial support for his Starlink terminals in Ukraine on Friday.
These internet terminals — Musk’s SpaceX company — are small and easy to use.
They have been vital for the communication of Kyiv’s army on the battleground and also for civilians to keep in touch with their loved ones amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
About 20,000 satellite units have been sent to Ukraine. But Musk tweeted that the “operation has cost SpaceX 80 million dollars and will exceed 100 million by the end of the year.”
On Thursday, CNN released documents showing that SpaceX has asked the US government to help fund the technology.
Elon Musk angered many on Twitter on Friday when he explained that in asking the Pentagon to foot the bill, he was simply following the advice of a Ukrainian diplomat, Andrij Melnyk.
A few days before, Musk published a poll on Twitter proposing his solution to end the war in Ukraine. One of the points included that Kyiv give up some of its territory to Russia, causing widespread criticism.
This led to backlash on social media with Andrij Melnyk tweeting at Elon Musk: “F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you.”
But this announcement of cutting funds for Starlink comes at a time when the public is increasingly doubtful of Musk’s support for Ukraine.
There have been recent reports of Starlink outages as Ukrainian troops attempt to retake ground occupied by Russia.
Former Ukrainian defence minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk told the Financial Times “that he hoped Musk did not render the devices ineffective in certain areas”, sparking further suspicions amid social media users.
On Tuesday, Musk rebuffed allegations that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There have been reports that Musk claimed Ukraine does not want peace negotiations but that Russia would be willing to accept them during a closed-door meeting last month.