Elon Musk directive to deactivate his Starlink satellite communications network near the Crimean coast last year, amid the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia, has been addressed in Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming biography of the multimillionaire. CNN obtained early access to this revelation, shedding light on Musk’s decision, which the book attributes to his concerns regarding the possibility of a Ukrainian sneak attack on the Russian naval fleet, potentially spiraling into a nuclear crisis.
When Ukrainian submarine drones, armed with explosives, approached the Russian fleet, they experienced a loss of connectivity, thereby neutralizing their threat. Isaacson's book indicates that Musk's discussions with senior Russian officials persuaded him of the looming potential for a catastrophic scenario, leading to his decisive action.
Musk, in a response posted on his social media platform "X," claimed that the Ukrainian government had submitted an "emergency request" for the activation of Starlink extending to Sevastopol. According to the biography, he was steadfast in his belief that acquiescing to this request would implicate SpaceX in a significant act of war and escalation of hostilities. Musk underscored the original intent of Starlink, highlighting that it was designed for peaceful applications, such as internet access, and not for military operations.
The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 15, 2022
Initially, Musk extended substantial support to Ukraine by providing millions of dollars' worth of SpaceX-manufactured Starlink satellite terminals to bolster its military efforts. However, his growing unease arose when these terminals were starting to be deployed in offensive actions against Russia. This internal conflict prompted Musk to question his involvement in the situation and led to his engagement with senior officials from both the US and Russia, states the book.
The situation also sparked disagreement regarding the responsibility for covering the expenses related to the Starlink terminals sent to Ukraine. Initially, SpaceX indicated its reluctance to continue funding the satellite equipment. However, following public backlash, Musk opted to offer continuous support. Ultimately, SpaceX forged an agreement with the US and European governments to fund an additional 100,000 satellite dishes for Ukraine in early 2023.
In Mexico, Elon Musk is actively promoting the adoption of his internet service. Earlier this week, Starlink announced a price reduction of its high-speed satellite internet services. The first hardware payment is a one-time fee of MX$8,300, which includes everything needed to connect to Starlink's low Earth orbit satellite constellation, followed by a monthly fee of MX$1,100 (US$62) for high-speed internet access. According to the official website, these initiatives are aimed at reducing the connectivity gap in Mexico by extending access to remote regions and areas lacking traditional broadband.