Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to comment on reports suggesting that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hindered Ukrainian war efforts by denying Starlink internet access for a drone attack on a Russian fleet in the Black Sea. Blinken, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” stated that he couldn’t speak to a specific episode but acknowledged the importance of Starlink for Ukrainian communication and military defense efforts.
Musk and the US government have publicly sparred over compensation for granting Ukraine access to Starlink, a satellite constellation that provides internet capabilities to remote regions. Musk revealed that Ukrainian officials requested internet access up to the port city of Sevastopol in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. However, Musk declined, stating his unwillingness for SpaceX to be involved in a major act of war and escalation of conflict.
The recent excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Musk clarified that Ukrainians mistakenly believed that Starlink coverage extended to Crimea. This misunderstanding led to erroneous reports claiming that Musk cut off access. Nonetheless, the incident highlighted Musk’s significant influence on government policy, particularly due to the vital role of Starlink in Ukrainian military communications.
During the interview, CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out the US government’s cautiousness in avoiding offense to a powerful billionaire like Musk when it comes to the important function of Starlink. Blinken did not entertain Tapper’s comment, choosing to stay discreet on the matter.
Musk also hinted at the development of a “Starshield” system, similar to Starlink but owned and controlled by the US government. This system aims to provide similar functionality while alleviating concerns regarding Musk’s decision-making.
While Blinken declined to comment on any potential correspondence between Musk and the Russian government, he acknowledged that considerations of potential Russian retaliation in response to actions taken in the Ukrainian conflict are always present.
Secretary Blinken recently visited Ukraine and announced $1 billion in aid for the nation, which has been devastated by the ongoing war.