In his upcoming book “Elon Musk,” biographer Walter Isaacson clarifies a significant detail regarding SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s alleged intervention in a Ukrainian attack on Russian warships. According to the book, Musk secretly instructed his engineers to turn off coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast, disrupting the Ukrainian military initiative. This action, described by Isaacson as a “mini-Pearl Harbor,” caused the Ukrainian drone subs to lose connectivity and wash ashore harmlessly. However, Isaacson notes that Musk was not fully supportive of this arrangement, stating that Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars.
Isaacson took to social media to provide further clarification. He explained that the Ukrainians believed coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They had asked Musk to enable coverage for their drone sub attack, but he chose not to, fearing it would escalate tensions and possibly lead to a major war.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine reportedly received over 120,000 Starlink terminals. These terminals communicate with SpaceX’s satellites, providing internet connectivity even in areas with disrupted services. It is unclear whether Ukraine had to pay for the terminals or the Starlink service.
Isaacson also corrected a misconception in his book, stating that Musk reaffirmed the policy against using Starlink for an attack on Crimea on the night of the attempted Ukrainian sneak attack. Therefore, Musk did not initiate the policy that night as previously written.
These clarifications came after a senior aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Musk of “committing evil” by allegedly thwarting the drone attack on the Russian fleet. Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelenskyy’s adviser, criticized Musk for not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy a portion of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which led to missiles being fired on Ukrainian cities and civilian casualties.
Despite the controversy, Ukrainian forces have come to rely on Starlink’s satellite constellation for their military drones and targeting enemy positions. In October 2022, Musk initially called on the Pentagon to take over funding for Starlink in Ukraine but later decided to continue financing the satellite internet service himself.
Overall, it is evident that Elon Musk’s involvement in the Ukrainian attack on Russian warships remains a subject of debate and interpretation.