Elon Musk does not want to expand Starlink to Crimea for the Ukrainian military. He fears that this could further fuel the Ukraine war.
Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk has rejected a request from Ukraine to expand its Starlink satellite internet service for Ukraine to include the Crimean peninsula, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. Business Insider reports. Musk is said to have expressed fears that if Ukraine tried to recapture Crimea, the situation could escalate and lead to a nuclear war.
According to Business Insider, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense approached Musk and asked him to unlock Starlink in Crimea for the Ukrainian military. Musk said so in a conversation with Eurasia Group political analyst Ian Bremmer at the end of September. However, Musk refused to support Ukraine because he feared an escalation to the point of the use of nuclear weapons.
Musk and Putin
Bremmer also claims that Musk told him he had previously spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he was willing to negotiate in the Ukraine war, but at the same time threatened to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine launched an attack on Crimea in order to recapture the peninsula. Crimea is strategically important for Russia because it is one of the few Russian ports on the European side that is ice-free all year round. Accordingly, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed there.
Musk meanwhile denies that he recently had a conversation with Putin. The last conversation took place about a year and a half ago on space issues, he wrote on Twitter. The pro-Russian peace plan for Ukraine proposed by Musk on October 3, which among other things provided for Russia to cede Crimea, probably did not come about under the influence of talks with Putin. At the time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Musk’s proposals, while Russia welcomed Musk proposals.
Starlink usage at the front
The Ukrainian military uses Starlink for front-line communications and, according to a report by Yahoo News, also for real-time communications with their reconnaissance drones. Recently, however, there have been massive outages from Starlink there, as reported by the Financial Times (FT).
This gave rise to speculation that Starlink was deliberately shut down in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, possibly to prevent Russian access to the network. Musk declined to comment in detail at the time, citing events on the battlefield as “secret”.