Elon Musk scrambled to justify blocking a Ukrainian attack on the Russian navy using Starlink – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Elon Musk scrambled to justify blocking a Ukrainian attack on the Russian navy using Starlink

Elon Musk at the VivaTech conference in Paris


Elon Musk defended his decision to block a Ukrainian attack that could have decimated Russia’s navy.
Per a new biography, he refused Ukraine use of his Starlink network to make the attack in 2022.
Musk appears to believe that by blocking the attack he prevented a nuclear war.

Elon Musk spent Thursday and Friday scrambling to justify his decision to thwart a major Ukrainian attack on Russia’s navy by denying it access to Starlink internet.

Musk argued repeatedly that he had avoided a nuclear war by thwarting the attack, believing that would have been Russia’s response had it gone ahead.

He was under pressure after an outraged response from Ukrainian officials, who said Musk was responsible for the deaths Russia’s ships had gone on to cause, and was trying to “play god” by intervening.

The attack, in September 2022, was with underwater drones strapped with explosives, and was aimed at the Russian navy in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula Russia has occupied since 2014.

The attack features in the forthcoming biography of Musk by the writer Walter Isaacson and became public knowledge Thursday when The Washington Post published an excerpt describing the details.

Per the excerpt, when Musk realized the attack was underway, he asked Starlink engineers to cut service within 100 kilometers of Crimea, meaning that as the drones approached they stopped working and drifted away. It said he feared the attack would be a “mini Pearl Harbor.”

Ukrainian officials soon hit back. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, wrote: “By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military fleet via Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities. As a result, civilians, children are being killed.”

Olexander Scherba, an official in Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said Musk was trying to “play god” by intervening.

Prominent critics of Russia, like the famed chess player Garry Kasparov and the anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder also criticized Musk.

He defended his actions, posting on X that to allow the Starlink access would have left its operator SpaceX “explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”

Per Isaacson’s excerpt, the Russian ambassador to the US had told Musk that an attack on Crimea would prompt Russia to use nuclear weapons, a threat he believed.

Most of Musk’s justification came in replies to a post on X making a similar point, titled “ELON PREVENTS NUCLEAR WAR?”

Musk also argued that his decision was more passive than reported.

He said “SpaceX did not deactivate anything,” and that, contrary to Isaacson’s excerpt, there was not any service around Crimea to begin with.

Instead, Musk said, Ukraine asked him to create coverage, and he declined.

In a later post, Isaacson said Musk was correct and that he also agreed with Musk’s assessment that the decision prevented a war.

—Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson) September 9, 2023

“The onus is meaningfully different if I refused to act upon a request from Ukraine vs. made a deliberate change to Starlink to thwart Ukraine,” Musk wrote in another post.

He also cited Starlink’s terms of service, claiming they “clearly prohibit Starlink for offensive military action, as we are a civilian system, so they were again asking for something that was expressly prohibited.”

A copy of the terms on Starlink’s website was more limited — it said the system was “not designed or intended for use with or in offensive or defensive weaponry” but did not say that was prohibited. It does say that Starlink can cut service to military users if it chooses to.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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