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Musk says he refused to activate Starlink near Crimea due to US sanctions against Russia

13.09.2023, 12:06
Musk at the All-In Summit, screenshot from the livestream
Musk at the All-In Summit, screenshot from the livestream

Elon Musk, founder of the Starlink satellite network, said that his 2022 refusal to activate Starlink in Crimea at Ukraine's request was due to US sanctions against Russia.

He said this at the All-In Summit tech conference, reports.

“The reason Starlink was turned off was actually because the US had sanctions against Russia. That includes Crimea, and we are not allowed to turn on the connectivity," he said, confirming that he had received desperate calls and messages from Ukrainian officials.

According to Musk, he would have gone ahead with the activation of Starlink over Crimea despite the current restrictions if the directive had come from US President Joe Biden.

As IMI reported, on September 12 US Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren demanded an investigation into SpaceX after Elon Musk acknowledged he had blocked Ukraine from extending the private Starlink satellite network for an attack on Russian warships near the Crimean coast.

On September 7, 2023, the CNN reported that, according to Musk's biographer Walter Isaacson, Elon Musk had secretly ordered his engineers to deactivate the Starlink satellite network to prevent a Ukrainian attack on the Russian fleet in Crimea. Musk's decision, which prompted Ukrainian officials to request that he reactivates the satellites, was prompted by his concern that Russia would retaliate with a nuclear strike. The concern, which, according to Isaacson, was facilitated by Musk's conversations with high-ranking Russian officials.

Elon Musk himself claimed that he had not deactivated Starlink satellite communication for the drones near the Crimeam coast, but had refused to activate it at Ukraine's request so as to prevent Ukraine's attack on the Russian fleet in Sevastopol.

In October 2022, CNN reported that Elon Musk's company SpaceX had informed the Pentagon that they would refuse to fund Starlink in Ukraine. Musk's company stated in the letter that it "can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as we did before." The letter also contained a request to the Pentagon to take over the funding for Ukraine's governmental and military use of the Starlink system. Musk confirmed this intention.

In early October, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk rejected a Ukrainian request to extend his satellite internet service Starlink to Russian-occupied Crimea. According to him, an effort to retake the peninsula from Russian forces could lead to a nuclear war.

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