Sat. Sep 30th, 2023
U.S. Sanctions Prevented Starlink Satellite Connection for Ukrainian Military Operation

U.S. sanctions on Russia have prohibited the activation of the Starlink satellite connection near Crimea for a Ukrainian military operation without explicit government approval, according to Elon Musk. Speaking at the All-In Summit in Los Angeles on September 12, the billionaire owner of SpaceX, the company operating Starlink satellites, stated that the sanctions encompass Crimea, thus requiring government permission to enable the connection. Musk revealed that the Ukrainian government had requested the activation of the connection during the night, referring to it as a potential “Pearl Harbor type attack on the Russian fleet in Sevastopol.” He emphasized that his compliance would have relied on a presidential directive.

Contrary to recent reports suggesting otherwise, Musk denied providing secret instructions to his engineers to disable Starlink satellite communications near Crimea in 2022 to prevent a Ukrainian submarine drone attack on Russian military ships. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography, “Elon Musk,” the hostile drones lost connectivity and ended up harmlessly ashore. Musk insisted that Starlink satellite communications were not active in the region during that time.

In response to these allegations, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for an investigation into Musk and SpaceX on September 11. Her objective was to evaluate whether the appropriate measures were in place to ensure that foreign policy decisions were made by the government rather than an individual billionaire.

SpaceX was awarded a contract by the Pentagon in June 2023 to provide Starlink satellite services to Ukraine following the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022. However, specific details regarding the contract, including the price, scope, and delivery timeline, remain undisclosed due to operational security concerns.

On September 8, the Financial Times reported that Musk had shared confidential messages with Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, with his biographer without permission.