Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and the subject of a recent biography by Walter Isaacson, has attracted the attention of Vladimir Putin. Putin praised Musk as an “outstanding person” and a talented businessman. While there have been suggestions of a close relationship between Musk and Putin, Isaacson clarified that Musk has no direct conversations with the Russian president. However, Musk did engage with the Russian ambassador and received updates on Soviet Russian policy.
Musk has shown support for Ukraine, particularly during the Russian invasion. When Ukraine’s satellite communications were disabled, Musk’s companies, SpaceX and Starlink, stepped in and provided satellite coverage. This assistance was crucial in preventing Ukraine from being overwhelmed by the invasion.
Isaacson also mentioned that Musk believes a ceasefire would be beneficial to end the conflict in Ukraine. However, the most controversial aspect of the book revolves around Musk’s involvement with Starlink and the denial of coverage for Crimea.
Isaacson initially reported that Musk cut off Starlink coverage for Crimea, which would have played a pivotal role in a secret Ukrainian attack on the Russian fleet. However, Isaacson later corrected this account, stating that Musk reaffirmed the decision not to enable Starlink in Crimea. The Ukrainians were unaware of this decision, which led to their surprise and ultimate failure in the mission.
The puzzling aspect is why the Ukrainians were not informed about the lack of Starlink coverage in Crimea when planning their attack. Isaacson explained that Musk had kept this information secret. Musk also decided to disable Starlink in certain parts of eastern Ukraine to prevent its misuse for offensive purposes. This decision caused confusion among the Ukrainians, who argued that they were using Starlink defensively to protect their villages.
Musk’s quasi-diplomatic role in the crisis raises questions about the extent of his power to make decisions regarding conflicts and potential escalation to wider wars. The book delves into this issue while shedding light on Musk’s relationship with Putin and Starlink’s involvement in Ukraine.