Elon Musk confirms he took Starlink sat offline to disrupt Ukraine strike on Russia
Elon Musk has confirmed that one of his Starlink satellite’s connectivity remained deactivated during a Ukraine attack on Russia as the billionaire sought to avoid being “complicit in a major act of war”.
The billionaire took to X (Twitter) account to explain that Ukraine had called for connectivity from Starlink for an “emergency request”, which he denied.
The news was first reported by CNN with reference to Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography of Musk. In it, Musk details that the “emergency” was a planned attack by Ukraine on Russia’s navy off the coast of Crimea in 2022.
The ships and marine drones that would have performed the attack depended on Starlink connectivity, however Musk chose not to activate the Starlink satellites, which meant that the Russian ships were left unharmed.
Earlier this year, Musk posted on X that “Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed,” in response to a post from former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly pushing the billionaire to restore full functionality in Starlink satellites.
Musk added: “But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.”
5,000 Starlink satellite terminals were sent in the days after Russia committed to its invasion last year, helping Ukraine citizens stay connected when other internet connectivity went down and Mykhailo Federov, the minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, tweeted urgent pleas for satellite assistance.
Federov has recently tweeted in response to the confirmation: “I officially give permission to publish my texting history with @elonmusk in a new book about him (with a winking emoji)”.
According to the CNN report of Isaacson’s biography, Federov pleaded with Musk at the time of the planned attack to restore connectivity.
“How am I in this war?” Musk allegedly asked Isaacson in the biography. “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.”
Earlier this year, TechInformed rounded up ten vital technologies used in the war in Ukraine.
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