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Elon Musk’s biographer clarified a key detail from his upcoming book on the SpaceX CEO.
It had said that Musk thwarted a Ukrainian offensive by turning off Starlink coverage near Crimea.
His biographer clarified that “Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not.”
Elon Musk’s biographer clarified a key detail about how the SpaceX CEO thwarted a major Ukrainian attack on a Russian fleet in Crimea.
Musk had come under fire for reportedly foiling the Ukrainian plot to strike the Russian fleet in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea.
The botched attack, which happened in 2022, required Musk’s Starlink satellites, which have been active in parts of Ukraine almost from the outbreak of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
In an excerpt from the author Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography on Musk, published by The Washington Post on Thursday, it said that Ukraine was planning a “sneak attack” using Starlink to guide six drone submarines laden with explosives to its target.
But Musk, fearing a nuclear war, “secretly told his engineers to turn off coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast,” which foiled the attack as the drones lost connectivity.
Isaacson has since posted on Musk’s platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to clarify the details of what happened, saying: “To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a major war.”
Initial reports said that Musk turned off a Starlink network that was already covering Crimea, but Isaacson’s clarification claims that there was no coverage in the area to begin with.
Musk responded to Isaacson’s post, thanking him for the edit and providing further details of Starlink’s operations in Ukraine.
“Much appreciated, Walter,” he wrote. “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. At no point did I or anyone at SpaceX promise coverage over Crimea.”
He added that, as a “civilian system,” Starlink was prohibited from use in military offensives.
“So they were again asking for something that was expressly prohibited,” he added.