According to Ukrainian officials and soldiers, Starlink communication devices malfunctioned for Ukrainian troops on the frontlines, impeding their attempts to retake territory from Russian forces, reported Financial Times.

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To enable Ukrainian troops to control drones, receive crucial intelligence updates, and communicate with one another in areas without other secure networks, the US government has purchased thousands of Starlink terminals, which are made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The systems that link a small antenna to a 35-centimeter-high terminal also give Ukrainian citizens access to the internet.

“Bad reporting by FT. This article falsely claims that Starlink terminals & service were paid for, when only a small percentage have been. This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year. As for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified,” Musk tweeted in response to the report.

The reporter, Christopher Miller, added to his initial Twitter thread, “@FT did put questions directly to @elonmusk about his Starlink systems in Ukraine. @SpaceX too. They haven’t gotten back to us to explain the outrages.”

“I’ve seen and used the Starlink systems myself in the eastern front in Ukraine and they’re great — when they work, and they mostly have been working. I wrote about how Ukrainian forces have used them back in June,” Miller added, citing a report by him that featured in Politico.

The FT report was then updated with the note, “This article has been amended to reflect that some of the Starlink terminals were donated to Ukraine by SpaceX.” The updated report added that donors also funded the purchase of these terminals through a crowdfunding campaign.

When a user pointed out, “Ukraine digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov wrote in a tweet that “rough data” about Starlink shows that about 150,000 people in the country use the service each day,” Musk replied, “I am in regular contact with Fedorov.”

Musk’s SpaceX provided Ukraine with Starlink satellites, the internet services of which are used by 150,000 people in the country each day, as Mykhailo Fedorov, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine claimed on May 2, 2022.

Fedorov also expressed gratitude towards Musk and spoke about SpaceX’s contribution previously.

“Starlink success story in Ukraine or how @SpaceX tech keeps us online. 10K Starlink terminals. One satellite can cover up to 5 villages with internet. Our new critical infrastructure, which is easy & mobile. Thank you, @elonmusk!” Federov tweeted on May 25, 2022.

Another Twitter user asked Musk, “Are you in regular contact with any other party involved in this war?” to which he replied, “Quite a few. Trying to do the right thing, which is not always clear,” without specifying the parties in question.

In a tweet earlier this week, Musk recommended UN-supervised elections in four occupied regions that Moscow had erroneously annexed following so-called referendums. The ballots were criticised as being unlawful and forced by the governments of Kyiv and the West. Musk wrote, “Russia leaves if that is will of the people.”

The 51-year-old also recommended that Ukraine maintain its neutrality and that Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, be officially recognised as part of Russia. He requested a yes/no vote from Twitter users on his proposal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to the outrage caused by the tweet with his own poll.

Zelensky tweeted, “Which @elonmusk do you like more?,” asking users to vote for either one that supports Russia or one that supports Ukraine.

“I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world,” Musk responded to the Ukrainian president’s tweet.

Mykhaylo Podolyak, a presidential adviser for Ukraine, proposed a “better peace plan” in which Russia would be demilitarised and denuclearized, “war criminals” would be tried before an international court, and Ukraine would reclaim its lands, including Crimea.

Andriy Melnyk, the outspoken Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, spoke bluntly.

“F**k off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” tweeted Melnyk. As of writing this, the tweet is pinned on the diplomat’s account.

“Let’s try this then: the will of the people who live in the Donbas & Crimea should decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine,” Musk wrote in reaction to his initial tweet.

He claimed that while his plan might not be popular, he did care “that millions of people may die needlessly for an essentially identical outcome.”