Ukrainian Official Accuses Elon Musk of Endangering Lives by Denying Starlink Access During Drone Op
Excerpts from Walter Isaacson's upcoming Elon Musk biography have surfaced in advance of its release next week, shedding light on the billionaire's involvement in providing Ukraine with Starlink access during the country's conflict with Russia. According to a reported excerpt by CNN, Musk purportedly instructed SpaceX employees to temporarily suspend Starlink access near the Crimea coast to prevent a potential Ukrainian drone attack on Russia's naval fleet.
Musk, who has reportedly engaged in communication with Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, expressed concerns that such an attack might trigger a nuclear response from Russia. In response to Ukraine's pleas to reactivate Starlink access, it is said that drones approaching Russian warships "lost connectivity and landed harmlessly onshore," as stated by Isaacson, as reported by CNN.
The alleged actions of Musk have had significant repercussions for Ukraine, as pointed out by Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Podolyak posted on X (the social media platform owned by Musk) that by preventing the drones from targeting Russian ships, Musk inadvertently allowed those ships to fire missiles at Ukrainian cities. Podolyak claimed, "As a result, civilians, including children, are being killed." He characterized this situation as the consequence of a combination of ignorance and a strong ego.
Musk, on the other hand, contends that Starlink was not operational in those specific areas, and thus, SpaceX had nothing to deactivate. He explained on X, "There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol, with the apparent intent being to incapacitate a significant portion of the Russian fleet at anchor." Musk argued that complying with this request would have made SpaceX complicit in a major act of war and escalation of conflict.
Regardless of the framing of the situation, Musk has acknowledged making decisions that have impacted the Ukraine-Russia conflict in one way or another. A previous report from late last year indicated that approximately 1,300 Starlink terminals temporarily went offline in Ukraine due to a dispute over payments for the internet service.