New details of Elon Musk’s involvement in the Ukraine-Russia war is revealed in his biography, writes, Sejal Sharma
Elon Musk holds many titles. He is the CEO of Tesla SpaceX and owns the social media company X, which was recently rebranded from Twitter. Going by an excerpt of his biography, published in the Washington Post, he also prevented World War 3 —an assertion he renounced.
According to the excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s book, Musk disabled his company Starlink’s satellite communication networks, which were being used by the Ukrainian military to attack the Russian naval fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, sneakily. The Ukrainian army was using Starlink as a guide to target Russian ships and attack them with six small drone submarines packed with explosives. Musk stopped this attack, and the drones “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly”, says Isaacson.
But Musk says otherwise. In a post on X, the SpaceX CEO said that Starlink was not active in the Crimea region in the first place and that SpaceX did not deactivate its network.
He further clarified that although there was a request from government authorities to activate Starlink in the region where the attack on Russia was about to take place, he didn’t agree to the request. “Then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation,” his post said.
Musk’s clarification raises doubts about what has been said in Isaacson’s book. Isaacson, who has written biographies previously on Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, tailed Musk for months to write his biography.
Musk’s clarification came after Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Head of the Office of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in an X post, “By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military (!) fleet via #Starlink interference, @elonmusk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities. As a result, civilians and children are being killed.”
Musk’s associations with Ukraine began when its communication systems were disrupted by Russia right before a full-scale invasion in February 2022. After Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian ministers requested, Musk provided the country with millions of dollars of Starlink satellite terminals, which became a critical part of Ukraine’s arsenal for carrying out military operations.
By October 2022, Starlink and, by extension, Musk was bleeding millions in dollars in the war. “SpaceX’s out of pocket cost to enable & support Starlink in Ukraine is ~$80M so far. Our support for Russia is $0. Obviously, we are pro Ukraine,” Musk tweeted back then.
Fighting a war isn’t cheap. Funding problems have ensued between Starlink and Ukraine. Interesting Engineering reported in November that up to 1,300 Starlink terminals went dark two weeks ago due to unpaid bills.
Ukraine has been paying Starlink a $2,500 monthly fee for each terminal it uses. That’s more than the $110 per month SpaceX charges standard Starlink users, adding up to a monthly bill of $3.25 million.
Although Musk was supporting the war-torn Ukraine, he believed it was reckless for Ukraine to launch an attack on Crimea, which Russia had annexed in 2014, claims Isaacson in his book. Musk decided to disable Starlink in the area when he spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States, who assured him that Russians would respond with a nuclear attack if the attack went through.
It’s now become clear that Musk could not have comprehended the extent to which he would get embroiled in the war. “How am I in this war?” said Musk to Isaacson, according to the excerpt. “Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix, chill, get online for school, and do good, peaceful things, not drone strikes.”
The biography, titled ‘Elon Musk,’ is set for a release on September 12.