‘A cocktail of ignorance and a big ego’: A Ukrainian war official has slammed Elon Musk after he disrupted a stealth operation by cutting off Starlink

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A furious Ukrainian official has blasted Elon Musk after it was revealed the SpaceX and Starlink founder sabotaged a stealth attack on Russia when he refused to grant access to satellites.

Musk’s low-orbit satellites have been providing critical internet access to the Eastern European nation since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

However, the Tesla CEO has been keen not to choose sides in the conflict and refuses to have his technology used as an asset in the conflict.

According to Musk’s biographer, that meant during an undercover Ukrainian operation in the Crimean coastal region of Russia, the Twitter owner ordered satellite communications be shut down.

In an excerpt viewed by CNN, Musk’s biographer Walter Isaacson writes that Ukrainian drones packed with explosives were headed towards a Russian naval fleet before the tech titan made the order. When communications dropped out, the drones “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly.”

Isaacson reports that Musk was attempting to avert a “mini-Pearl Harbor”, asking: “How am I in this war?”

But the richest man on the globe—whose innovations have shaped the course of the war whether he likes it or not—has been slammed for the decision by a Ukrainian official desperate to try and even the score against Putin.

“Sometimes a mistake is much more than just a mistake,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posted on X—formerly known as Twitter.

He added: “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, children are being killed.

“This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego. However, the question still remains: why do some people so desperately want to defend war criminals and their desire to commit murder?

“And do they now realize that they are committing evil and encouraging evil?”

Musk—approached via the X press office—did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

‘SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war’

Musk is denying he made the call to undermine the military exercise.

Writing on X, the Boring Company founder said he didn’t withdraw satellite access over Crimea, he simply refused to grant it in the first place.

Responding to a post claiming he had instructed engineers to deactivate Starlink’s satellites in the region, Musk responded: “The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything.”

And although tactics of war—particularly covert operations like the event in question—are typically kept intensely confidential, Musk lifted the lid further on the operation and confirmed Ukraine’s plot.

The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2023

“There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol,” Musk added. “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.”

During the incident Musk—who has found himself an inadvertent power in the conflict—was apparently consulting with both Ukrainian and U.S. officials.

In Isaacson’s biography—due to be released on Sept. 12—Musk is reported as believing Ukrainian retaliation had gone “too far,” and didn’t want to be directly linked to a counter-offensive attack.

Starlink—a subsidiary of X—has so far spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Ukraine, according to Musk. In October last year he said the bill for the satellite terminals would come to more than $100 million for 2022, before adding: “The hell with it … we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”

‘Totally inappropriate’

Although some of Musk’s backers on the platform supported his decision, others believe Musk—an unelected figure now playing a major role in a global conflict—isn’t qualified to make such calls.

Continuing the conversation on the social media site—which Musk purchased last year for $44 billion—the entrepreneur called for a truce between Ukraine and Russia: “Every day that passes, more Ukrainian and Russian youth die to gain and lose small pieces of land, with borders barely changing. This is not worth their lives.”

Others pointed out Russia’s history of escalation when it comes to invasions, pointing out Ukraine is merely defending itself from an encroaching enemy.

“Elon, you make great cars (and a lot of money), but that doesn’t qualify you in any way to tip the scales in an existential fight for freedom for the people of Ukraine,” responded Bill Browder, a human rights campaigner and CEO of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, adding: “Russia started this war, Ukraine is defending itself. Your call for capitulation is totally inappropriate.”

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