Foreign minister hits out at Elon Musk denying Starlink Ukraine coverage

Elon Musk.
Elon Musk. Source: Daniel Oberhaus/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) has criticized the owner of the X platform, Elon Musk, over the latter's refusal to make a satellite network operated by his company SpaceX in the region close to occupied Crimea, in Ukraine.

The foreign minister tweeted Friday that: "The owner of this platform had a chance to shorten the war and to save lives from the barrage of missiles fired from the Black Sea on a daily basis."

"He chose not to. Easy as that," the minister went on.

Musk himself said that there had been an emergency request from government authorities to activate the Starlink satellite network all the way to Sevastopol, in Crimea.

Starlink provides internet coverage across the globe.

Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Musk added that the "obvious intent" here was to be able to sink the Russian Black Sea fleet, which he said is at anchor.

"If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation," Musk went on.

The BBC reports that the controversy follows the release of a biography of Musk written by Walter Isaacson, which alleges that Musk switched off Ukraine's access to Starlink due to fears that a strike on Russia's naval fleet in Crimea could provoke a heavy response from the Kremlin, potentially including the use of nuclear weapons.

Starlink terminals connect to SpaceX satellites in orbit and have been crucial for maintaining internet connectivity and communication in Ukraine, since the conflict has disrupted the country infrastructure, the BBS reports.

SpaceX, in which Musk is the largest shareholder, began providing thousands of Starlink satellite dishes to Ukraine shortly after the start of the current war, in February 2022.

Kyiv had sent an emergency request to activate Starlink to Sevastopol, home to a major Russian navy port, the BBC reports.

Ukraine had targeted Russian ships in Sevastopol with submarine drones carrying explosives but they lost connection to Starlink and "washed ashore harmlessly", Isaacson wrote in his biography.

Musk has in the past said Starlink would not be permissible for the use of, for instance, drone strikes – which critics say allowed the reverse in fact happened, ie. the Russian military in the form of its navy was then able to launch missile strikes on Ukraine.

Musk has also called for a truce between Ukraine and Russia.

Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and then held a sham referendum there, eight years before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BBC

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