Elon Musk says he’s not the one to blame for the Starlink debacle in Crimea.
Ukrainian officials have slammed Elon Musk for not allowing Ukraine to access Starlink satellites.Musk said the US government did not give him the OK to turn on Starlink access in Crimea.Musk said he would have given Ukraine access to the satellites if Biden gave the green light.
Elon Musk has been scrambling to defend his decision to block Ukraine’s access to Starlink in 2022 near Crimea — and his latest explanation involves blaming the US government.
Access to Starlink in the territory near Crimea was “turned off” because the US has sanctions against Russia, Musk said. Starlink is not allowed to turn access on in Crimea without government approval, he said.
“If I got a request from the president type of thing — from the American president, to be clear — then I would have turned it on,” Musk said about the use of Starlink in Crimea. “No such request came through.”
Musk made the comments during an episode of “The All-In Podcast” that was uploaded on the Musk-owned X, previously known as Twitter, on September 12.
Musk did not specify who turned Starlink access off, or when exactly it was turned off. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.
Throughout the war with Russia, front-line troops in Ukraine have used Starlink — a SpaceX-owned satellite communications network — to stay in touch with their command centers. However, the network being dark over Crimea foiled an attempted Ukrainian drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Walter Isaacson wrote in his new biography of Musk.
Ukrainian officials this week slammed Musk for not allowing Ukraine to access Starlink satellites — and have said that Musk, by extension, thwarted the country’s efforts in September 2022 to launch an effective assault on Russian-controlled territory in Crimea.
“Elon rules: someone else’s land, freedom, dignity is not worth someone else’s life. Elon rules whose life is worth what. Elon rules it’s better live on the knees than die standing up,” Olexander Scherba, the ambassador for strategic communications at Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry, tweeted on September 8.
In the podcast, Musk said he interpreted Ukraine’s request to turn on Starlink satellite access in 2022 as an invitation for the company to “really, proactively, take part in a major act of war.”
Musk also said the use of Starlink in Crimea could have created a “mini Pearl Harbor.”
“But, I think, you have to sort of say, taking the actual example of Pearl Harbor. And say, ‘Well, how did that work out for Japan?’ It didn’t work out well at all,” Musk said. “Because it was a tactical victory, a strategic defeat. It enraged the American public, who sort of, naturally, wanted vengeance for this act.”
He added that giving Ukraine the capacity to attack Russia, in his opinion, would “result in a mass escalation of hostilities.”
“This would not defeat Russia. It would enrage Russia,” Musk said.
Musk also said he believes Starlink remains the “fundamental communication backbone of the Ukrainian government.”
“It is the only thing that works on the war front, everything else has been jammed by the Russians,” Musk said.
The State Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.