Ukraine has accused Elon Musk of “committing evil” after a new biography revealed that the business magnate ordered his Starlink satellite communications network to be turned off last year to thwart a drone attack on Russian warships.
Starlink is SpaceX’s global network of more than four thousand satellites that provide service to more than fifty countries. In Ukraine, Starlink has worked as the connective tissue for crucial battlefield communications.
According to a new biography of Musk, in an interview with author Walter Isaacson, the South African-born billionaire asked, “How am I in this war?”
In the early days of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, as Western governments worked to supply Kyiv with artillery and air defense systems, the first of Musk’s Starlink terminals arrived in the country. The billionaire eventually soured on the arrangement.
Ukraine blasts Elon Musk’s decision
“Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars,” Musk said, according to the book. “It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes.”
He told Isaacson that he was worried the Ukrainian attack on Russian vessels would provoke the Kremlin into launching a nuclear war. The book, titled Elon Musk, will be released Tuesday.
A top aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at Musk over the revelation. “By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military fleet via Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities,” Mykhailo Podolyak said.
“As a result, civilians, children are being killed, he added on X, which was formerly known as Twitter. “This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego.”
“Why do some people so desperately want to defend war criminals and their desire to commit murder?” he wrote. “And do they now [realize] that they are committing evil and encouraging evil?”
Sometimes a mistake is much more than just a mistake. By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military (!) fleet via #Starlink interference, @elonmusk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities. As a result, civilians, children are…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) September 7, 2023
“The Starlink regions in question were not activated,” Musk said Thursday night in an X thread about the revelation. “SpaceX did not deactivate anything.”
He added: “Both sides should agree to a truce. Every day that passes, more Ukrainian and Russian youth die to gain and lose small pieces of land, with borders barely changing. This is not worth their lives.”
Isaacson added that Musk’s decision was discussed in a phone call with President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley.
Musk, according to Isaacson, was also engaged in a texting conversation with Ukraine’s digital minister, Mykhailo Fedorov. The official pleaded with Musk to restore Starlink’s connectivity so that Ukrainian submarine drones could carry out the attack on Russia’s warship fleet.
Musk replied that he thought Ukraine was “going too far and inviting strategic defeat,” according to Isaacson’s book.
“I think if the Ukrainian attacks had succeeded in sinking the Russian fleet, it would have been like a mini Pearl Harbor and led to a major escalation,” he said, according to Isaacson. “We did not want to be a part of that.”