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Musk confirms thwarting major Ukrainian attack in Crimea

Admitting he denied the Ukrainian government’s urgent request to activate Starlink in Crimea, he tweeted that “both sides” should agree to a “truce”
Elon Musk Ukraine crimea
Elon Musk. Photo: James Duncan Davidson
Musk confirms thwarting major Ukrainian attack in Crimea

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that he declined Ukraine’s “urgent request” to activate Starlink internet service in Crimea earlier this year, a move that prevented a major Ukrainian attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Musk confirmed allegations by CNN that he had directed SpaceX to keep Starlink disabled near the Crimean coastline after Ukrainian officials asked for it to be activated along the path to Sevastopol, home of Russia’s naval base.

“The obvious intention being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor,” Musk wrote. He added that complying with Ukraine’s request would have made SpaceX “explicitly complicit in a major act of war” and escalated the war.

The claims originated from excerpts of an upcoming Elon Musk biography, which said he blocked Starlink in the region after company officials raised concerns that the satellite internet was being used by drones to guide missile attacks.

CNN: Elon Musk shut down Starlink in Crimea to stop Ukraine’s drone attack on Russian Navy

By preventing the activation of Starlink, Musk foiled what likely would have been a devastating offensive on Russian forces docked in Sevastopol. While the move disrupted Ukraine’s plans, Musk argued that both sides should agree to a ceasefire instead of fighting over “small tracts of land.”

SpaceX activated Starlink internet service in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion to provide connectivity. However, Musk has faced criticism for some of his Ukraine-related comments, including a contested peace plan that involved recognizing Crimea as part of Russia.

In his tweets, Musk did not provide evidence corroborating the biography’s account. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk’s controversies on Ukraine

Elon Musk’s Starlink internet technology has enabled the Ukrainian army to plan operations on the frontline. However, in October 2022, CNN reported that he asked the Pentagon to pick up the bill for this technology in the Ukrainian army, a claim that Musk had confirmed. Following internet debates, Musk agreed to keep funding the Starlinks for the Ukrainian government. 

In February 2023, SpaceX limited Ukraine’s ability to use Starlink to direct drones, citing a violation of service terms.

In October 2022, Elon Musk tweeted a suggestion that Ukraine should essentially surrender in the face of Russia’s war against Ukraine. This tweet generated controversy; we refuted it here

What’s wrong with Elon Musk’s tweet on Ukraine

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