Elon Musk shut down Starlink in the middle of the Ukrainian bombing… to avoid pissing off Putin

He was going to fight with Putin to end the war... but then he does this to you

Elon Musk shut down Starlink in the middle of the Ukrainian bombing… to avoid pissing off Putin
Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Chema Carvajal Sarabia

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We all remember the role Elon Musk played in the Ukrainian war by sending Starlink receivers to the Ukrainian people, thus giving internet to Zelenski’s country in its lowest hours: Russia was destroying its telecommunications.

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Well, we have now discovered, from Elon Musk himself, that the company shut down Starlink to thwart a Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian naval fleet in Crimea last year for fear that Vladimir Putin would retaliate with a nuclear strike.

In an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk, CNN quotes a section claiming that Musk secretly ordered Starlink engineers to shut down satellite communications near the Crimean coast in 2022 when Ukrainian underwater drones approached the Russian naval fleet for a surprise attack.

Isaacson writes that when the drones approached the ships, they “lost connectivity and came ashore harmlessly.” Ukrainian officials reportedly pleaded with Musk via text messages to turn the service back on.

Mykhailo Fedorov, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, was among those who pleaded with Musk to restore coverage. “I just want you, the person who is changing the world through technology, to know,” Fedorov told Musk.

Supporting Ukraine… but only defending itself

The reason for Musk’s decision was fear that Russia would respond to the attack with the use of nuclear weapons, stemming from the billionaire’s talks with senior Russian officials.

Musk reportedly said that Ukraine was “going too far” by threatening with a “strategic defeat” to Putin’s forces, referring to the drone attack as a “mini pearl harbor”.

CNN writes that as the situation continued, Musk was “on the phone with President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. to address Washington’s anxieties with Moscow.”

“How am I in this war?” Musk asked Isaacson. “Starlink wasn’t meant to be involved in wars. It was for people to be able to watch Netflix and relax and go online to go to school and do good, peaceful things, not drone strikes.”

It’s been a rough road for Starlink in Ukraine. SpaceX has supplied more than 25,000 terminals to the country and maintained them since the war began, helping to keep the nation’s critical infrastructure and its citizens online as Russia continues its assault.

This has led Russia to threaten to make satellites a legitimate target. Former Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin also made veiled death threats against the Tesla boss.

Musk warned in October that since Starlink’s donations to Ukraine exceeded $100 million, his company would not be able to foot the bill forever, and suggested that the Pentagon help with the costs.

But he did a U-turn days later, confirming that SpaceX would fund Starlink in Ukraine “indefinitely.”

Relations turned colder in February when SpaceX limited Ukraine’s ability to use the Starlink satellite service for offensive military purposes.

Claims that Musk stopped an attack on Russian military equipment are unlikely to go down well in Ukraine, which was particularly angered by the world’s richest man’s “peace plan” last year.

Musk suggested that the sham elections that took place in the occupied areas of Ukraine and led Putin to authorize its annexation be held again, but this time under UN supervision, and that Russia must leave if it is the will of the people.

Musk once offered to fight Putin in single combat over the future of Ukraine, but that seems about as likely as Musk fighting Mark Zuckerberg.

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Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Journalist specialized in technology, entertainment and video games. Writing about what I'm passionate about (gadgets, games and movies) allows me to stay sane and wake up with a smile on my face when the alarm clock goes off. PS: this is not true 100% of the time.

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