Elon Musk Cut Off Ukraine’s Starlink Access During Drone Attack, According To His Biographer


Topline

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, cut off the Ukrainian military’s access to his Starlink internet system to thwart a submarine drone attack against Russia because he believed it would start a nuclear war, according to a forthcoming biography by Walter Isaacson, advance copies of which have been read by CNN and other news organizations.

Key Facts

Musk reportedly turned off access to SpaceX’s Starlink service, which Ukrainian forces have relied heavily on for communication, while the Ukrainian military was attempting a submarine drone strike on a Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea, according to the book.

He reportedly did so out of fear it would be like a “mini-Pearl Harbor” that inspired Russian retaliation, and told Ukrainian officials begging him to restore access around Crimea that he wouldn’t because Ukraine “is now going too far and inviting strategic defeat.”

Musk reportedly had been in communication with senior Russian officials.

Neither SpaceX nor Musk responded to Forbes’ request for comment Thursday.

Key Background

After Russia initially invaded Ukraine in February 2022, SpaceX, which is receiving U.S. defense funding for the service, sent terminals for the Starlink system, which uses a global network of over 4,000 satellites to provide users with internet access. The Ukrainian military has relied heavily on this system for communications between front line troops and commanders further away from the fighting while Russian forces target the country’s communications infrastructure.

Tangent

The book, which also reportedly dives into Musk’s feelings about his technology being used in the war, is set to be released September 12. Isaacson is a prolific biographer who’s written biographies of figures like Apple founder Steve Jobs, military leader Henry Kissinger and scientist Albert Einstein.

Crucial Quote

“How am I in this war?” Musk is quoted asking in the book. “Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes.”

Further Reading

‘How am I in this war?’: New Musk biography offers fresh details about the billionaire’s Ukraine dilemma (CNN)

Elon Musk blocked Ukraine’s access to Starlink near Crimea after speaking with Russian officials, biographer says (Insider)



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