Although his SpaceX is a big Pentagon contractor, billionaire Elon Musk has often stated that the Starlink satellite constellation it developed was always meant to serve civilian purposes.
However, Musk and his service ended up being dragged into the military confrontation vortex in Ukraine.
As Russian Federation forces were about to launch their ‘Special Military Operation’, they knocked out Kiev’s communications systems.
Musk has since started providing Ukraine with millions of dollars worth of SpaceX-made Starlink satellite terminals, which then became crucial to Ukraine’s military operations.
A new biography of the SpaceX-Tesla-Twitter/X mogul, scheduled for release later in September, written by an author of acclaimed biographies of the likes of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, recalled a pivotal moment in the war, where Musk’s non-intentional involvement with the war was taken to the limit.
“Elon Musk secretly ordered his engineers to turn off his company’s Starlink satellite communications network near the Crimean coast last year to disrupt a Ukrainian sneak attack on the Russian naval fleet, according to an excerpt adapted from Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the eccentric billionaire titled ‘Elon Musk’.
As Ukrainian submarine drones strapped with explosives approached the Russian fleet, they ‘lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly’, Isaacson writes.”
This decision was taken out of fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack on Crimea with nuclear weapons – ‘a fear driven home by Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials’, according to Isaacson.
The episode highlights the unique position Musk found himself in as the war unfolded.
“’How am I in this war?’ Musk asks Isaacson. ‘Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes’.”
Musk spoke with Biden’s adviser Jake Sullivan, General Mark Milley, and the Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov, in a bid to resolve his impasse.
“Meanwhile, Mykhailo Fedorov, a deputy prime minister of Ukraine, was pleading with Musk to restore connectivity for the submarine drones by telling Musk about their capabilities in a text message, according to Isaacson. ‘I just want you—the person who is changing the world through technology—to know this’, Fedorov told Musk.”
There was also the question of who would pay for the Starlink terminals. After spending tens of millions with the satellite equipment to Ukraine, the company told the Pentagon that they wouldn’t continue to foot the bill for the satellite gear.
Although Musk was to reverse the course, tweeting ‘the hell with it… we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free’, eventually Starlink was able to work out a deal with the US and European governments to pay for another 100,000 new satellite dishes to Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, reacted to the CN piece:
Business Insider reported:
“It has previously been reported — and admitted by SpaceX leadership — that steps have been taken to prevent Ukraine from using the Starlink system for certain attacks. Last fall, Ukrainian forces reported ‘catastrophic‘ outages in areas that had previously been occupied by Russia, suggesting the system had been deliberately deactivated there, possibly to deny Russian access (Musk, at the time, said information regarding Starlink’s use on the battlefield was ‘classified’).”
personally denied a Ukrainian request to allow Starlink to be used for a maritime drone attack near Crimea,
“According to Isaacson, Musk himself ordered Starlink engineers to deactivate the system along the coast of Crimea.
[…] The system was ‘never meant to be weaponized’, [Starlink CEO Gwynne] Shotwell said earlier this year, citing Ukraine’s use of Starlink for drone reconnaissance and attacks. ‘There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that’, she said. ‘There are things that we can do, and have done’.”
Elon Musk has since clarified the CNN report, saying that the system was not turned on in the area, and that he rejected Ukraine’s request to activate it due to concerns about a possible UAF attack against Russian fleet.
The daily US News supports our president Donald J Trump