Saturday, April 20, 2024

How Ukrainian Entitlement Turned Off Elon Musk

On Thursday, news broke that SpaceX, the company founded and run by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, could no longer pay for Starlink services it donated to Ukraine. Instead, SpaceX and Musk wanted the U.S. government to take over the costs.

Starlink is a satellite internet service that is able to run even as power goes out. Starlink has been essential to the Ukrainian war effort enabling their military to communicate securely even as Russian forces destroy the country’s cellular phone and internet networks.

This news came in the wake of a proposed peace deal that Musk floated on Twitter earlier last month through a poll of his followers that was angrily denounced by Ukrainian government officials.

In response to Musk’s tweets, [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy posted a Twitter poll asking “which Elon Musk do you like more?” with the options being “one who supports Ukraine” or “one who supports Russia.” 

Ukraine’s foreign minister was even more vociferous in his response to Musk, although he did not mention the South African-born businessman directly by name. 

“Those who propose Ukraine give up on its people and land — presumably not to hurt Putin’s bruised ego or to save Ukraine from suffering — must stop using the word “peace” as a euphemism to “let Russians murder and rape thousands more innocent Ukrainians, and grab more land,” Kuleba said.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany was also undiplomatically direct in his response to Musk’s comments saying “fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you”, and writing that “the only outcome is that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your f…ing tesla crap. So good luck to you”.

On Twitter, Musk all but confirmed that he was pulling the free Starlink because of the insults he received at the hands of the Ukrainians.

Is Musk being childish by refusing to continue to provide free Starlink because he was insulted? Unquestionably. But the Ukrainians forgot one of the first rules of diplomacy which is don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That is especially true when your country’s very survival is due to the generosity of others.

It is no surprise the Ukrainians would reject any proposed peace deal that would require them to give up land to Russia. After all, the Russians invaded them. But they could have been more diplomatic in dealing with Musk, who put his companies on the line to help them in their darkest hour.

Musk and SpaceX did not have to provide free Starlink, especially when it looked like the Russians were about to take Kyiv. It is unreasonable to expect Musk’s charity to continue indefinitely, especially when the recipients of that charity insult him.

If some Ukrainian officials have a sense of entitlement, it appears to be stronger among some of their supporters on the American left. Left-wing pundit Alexander Vindman called for his followers to cancel Elon Musk.

The logic is absurd. For starters, if this is a U.S. national security issue shouldn’t the U.S. government pay for these services?

His fellow lefty, Congressman Adam Kinzinger also had some thoughts. Among those is the U.S. government no longer doing business with any of Musk’s companies.

If you cut off Musk’s companies good luck sending astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX is the only American entity flying astronauts to the International Space Station right now.

Musk’s demand is not unreasonable here. SpaceX is not a charity and if the U.S. government wants these services to continue to be provided to Ukraine, it should pay for them. If the U.S. government is unwilling to pay for these services, then we have our answer to whether or not aiding Ukraine is in America’s best interests.

Make no mistake Russia is the aggressor against Ukraine. The mistakes of some in Ukraine’s government do not change that fact. Nor am I going as far as some in this publication in calling for an end to U.S. aid for Ukraine.

The Ukrainians need to understand the growing sense of entitlement of some of their government officials and their international supporters is only harming their cause. The West’s aid, both public and private, is not without limit, and to suggest otherwise only serves to turn more and more people against their cause.