Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is under attack from Ukrainian officials for his decision not to activate a Starlink system near Crimea. This is credited for preventing a major drone strike by Kyiv on the Russian navy last year.
Starlink is a system of satellites providing internet connectivity to far-flung locations around the globe where such service would otherwise be unavailable.
The revelation came in a new Musk biography being released this week. It drew condemnation from Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, who blasted the Starlink CEO’s decision as “the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego.”
Much appreciated, Walter.
The onus is meaningfully different if I refused to act upon a request from Ukraine vs. made a deliberate change to Starlink to thwart Ukraine.
At no point did I or anyone at SpaceX promise coverage over Crimea.
Moreover, our terms of service clearly… https://t.co/jmNtScM5LY
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2023
Posting on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter that ironically is owned by Musk, Podolyak strongly criticized the decision. “By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian fleet via Starlink interference, @elonmusk allowed his fleet to fire Kalibr missiles.”
This, he claimed, resulted in civilians and children being killed.
Podolyak indirectly accused Musk of “committing evil and encouraging evil.” He said that some are desperate to aid war criminals and their murderous ambitions.
Musk explained that he refused the Kyiv request because he did not want his company to be complicit in a “major” act of war. He said on X that he had no choice but to reject an emergency request “to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol.”
The obvious intent, he said, was to destroy most of the Russian fleet at anchor. “If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”
Russia seized Crimea in 2014 and uses it as the base for its Black Sea Fleet. Attacks on Ukraine are launched from the site and Kyiv has struck the Kremlin’s vessels using drones.
CNN reported that the new biography, “Elon Musk,” detailed that Ukrainian submarine drones filled with explosives “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly” when they neared the Russian fleet in Crimea.
Musk refused the request to activate Starlink in the area, according to the new book, because he feared Russia would retaliate with a nuclear strike. The entrepreneur spoke with senior officials from Moscow and felt a successful attack would be a “mini-Pearl Harbor.”
His SpaceX company provided Ukrainian civilians as well as the military with Starlink internet service since the beginning of the war early last year.