Elon Musk, the controversial figure behind X, formerly known as Twitter, has recently come under fire for his involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Last September, Musk refused a request from the Ukrainian military to activate the Starlink satellite communications network, operated by his SpaceX company, over Russian-occupied Crimea. This decision prevented Ukrainian forces from attacking Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
According to Musk, activating the network would have made SpaceX complicit in an act of war and conflict escalation. He has expressed concerns that the war in Ukraine could lead to World War III. However, critics argue that a private citizen should not have the authority to make such unilateral decisions about national security.
Musk’s Starlink satellites have been vital to Ukraine’s armed forces, providing internet service that the Russian military has been unable to jam. At the beginning of the conflict, Musk donated portable terminals and Tesla batteries to power them, effectively aiding Ukraine’s freedom fighters. Yet, without informing Ukrainian authorities, he disabled the service over Crimea to avoid provoking a nuclear response from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
When Ukraine launched a submarine drone assault and found no Starlink service, they pleaded with Musk to turn it on. However, he declined, even in other Russian-controlled areas where Ukrainian soldiers were fighting to recapture territory. Critics argue that Musk’s geopolitical vision is flawed and that he should not be making these decisions.
The issue raises questions about the concentration of power in the hands of billionaires like Musk. It is concerning that the world’s richest man can control such a vital communications network at his discretion. Some argue that the US government should have its own satellite array, under the control of elected officials, to avoid such reliance on private individuals.
While Musk has expressed frustration with being involved in wars, the focus should be on the Pentagon’s priorities and the effectiveness of the defense budget. If aid to Ukraine is dependent on one individual, it suggests that something is seriously wrong with the system. The US government should invest in its own satellite infrastructure, which may require collaboration with companies like SpaceX.
Ultimately, decisions regarding the gravest threats to peace and security should be made by elected officials, not private citizens. The case of Elon Musk’s role in the Ukraine conflict highlights the need for a reevaluation of how national security decisions are made.