Espreso. Global

Musk says he has not turned on Starlink in Crimea because of US sanctions against Russia

13 September, 2023 Wednesday
11:18

American billionaire Elon Musk has voiced a new reason for shutting down Starlink in the occupied Crimea: he said that since the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia, he is prohibited from turning on satellite communications on the peninsula

Musk said this during a speech at All-In Summit 2023.

"The reason why it (Starlink - ed.) was turned off is really interesting, because the US has imposed sanctions on Russia and we are not actually allowed... This includes Crimea under sanctions and we are actually not allowed to turn on the connection to the country (under sanctions - ed.) without the approval of the US government," Musk said. 

According to him, the request to turn on Starlink in Crimea was an emergency.

"Ukraine did not give us any warning or anything like that at all. We received an emergency request from the Ukrainian authorities to activate Starlink. In the middle of the night," the billionaire said.

He added that if US President Joe Biden had ordered to turn on Starlink on the peninsula, he would have done so, but "there were no requests." 

Elon Musk also compared the request to turn on communication in Crimea to the Pearl Harbor attack, which started the war in the Pacific between Japan and the United States, and said that Ukraine, with its request, allegedly asked to "really proactively participate in a major war."

Background 

Writer Walter Isaacson wrote about the Starlink shutdown in his biography of Elon Musk. According to him, the businessman was afraid that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would use the technology to strike at the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Musk, in turn, said that he did not disconnect Starlink in Crimea, but rejected Ukraine's request to reconnect it.

"SpaceX did not deactivate anything. There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol. The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor. If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation," the businessman explained.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office, called Musk's actions a mixture of ignorance and a big ego, which resulted in numerous human casualties.

Later, Musk said that he did not consider himself a traitor for shutting down Starlink satellite internet in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

"I am a citizen of the United States and have only that passport. No matter what happens, I will fight for and die in America. The United States Congress did not declare war on Russia. If anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such," the billionaire said.

The U.S. Senate calls for an investigation into U.S. billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX company after he admitted that he blocked Ukraine's Starlink satellite Internet service in the occupied Crimea.

It is worth noting that this is not the first scandal involving Musk. Last year, his SpaceX company informed the Pentagon that it refused to finance Starlink satellite communications services in Ukraine. Eventually, the US took over the costs.

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