The European Union is considering plans to pay for Elon Musk’s Starlink to continue providing Internet access for Ukraine, according to reports.
A Lithuanian official reportedly told Politico that EU countries are now discussing covering the costs.
The news comes as Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX continues to pay for it.
However, Musk revealed that SpaceX is looking for external funding to foot the bill for the service.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico in an interview that the topic of funding Ukraine’s Starlink service was raised during a meeting of the 27 EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Oct. 17.
“I figured that it’s probably way better to have this as a contractual agreement between, let’s say, a coalition of countries that could purchase a service from Mr. Musk, the Starlink service, and provide it to the Ukrainians and keep on providing it to Ukrainians,” Landsbergis told the outlet.
He said the topic was raised by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and officials from other countries joined in the discussion, which he said was at an early stage.
Landsbergis said in an earlier post on Twitter that continuing to provide Ukraine with Starlink internet, which has reportedly been a big factor in some of the country’s battlefield successes against Russian forces, was “too important to be left in the hands of one private individual.”
“Let’s find a way to form a coalition of Ukraine’s allies to pay for Starlink, or let’s find an alternative supplier,” Landsbergis said in the post.
“Lithuania is ready to contribute.”
It comes after Musk said SpaceX couldn’t keep funding Ukraine’s Starlink “indefinitely.”
Musk later said SpaceX would be rolling out a donation feature so donors could help fund the provision of Starlink to places in need.
SpaceX has so far donated around 20,000 Starlink units to Ukraine, with Musk saying in a post on Twitter that the move has cost the rocket company $80 million so far.
He noted that the cost would climb to over $100 million by the end of the year.
Musk’s remarks about not being able to fund Starlink to Ukraine “indefinitely” linked to a CNN report claiming SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink.
“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 100X greater than typical households,” Musk said in the post.
“This is unreasonable.”
Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Musk announced that the Starlink satellite internet service was being provided to Ukrainians.
While Starlink delivered an information lifeline to darkened swaths of the war-torn country, it also served as a link to enable Ukrainian military drones to target Russian tanks and positions more effectively.