Elon Musk reportedly personally refused a Ukrainian proposal to expand his satellite internet service to Crimea, fearing that an endeavour to reclaim the peninsula from Russian forces would result in a nuclear war.
Still continuing from the report by foreign policy analyst Ian Bremmer on his alleged conversations with Musk, the Ukrainian government urged the SpaceX CEO to activate Starlink in Crimea, which Russia invaded and illegally occupied in 2014.
Bremmer relayed that Musk “refused given the potential for escalation.”
In a note to his clients, the founder of consultancy firm Eurasia Group said that Musk purportedly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin about a prospective pro-Russian peace plan–just before the billionaire tweeted his own Ukraine-Russia ‘peace plan’ poll.
The Tesla chief denies Bremmer’s allegations, saying he only spoke “to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago” and the topic was “space.” Bremmer also denies his report being false.
Ukraine’s digital minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, encouraged Musk to send Starlink systems to Ukraine in the early months of the war. The billionaire was quick to respond, stating that the systems were operational and that more terminals were on their way within hours.
During SpaceX’s June all-hands meeting, the company reported it has provided 15,000 Starlink kits to Ukraine following the invasion.
The gravy train, however, apparently has a limit. In a Financial Times piece, the service was reportedly experiencing “catastrophic” disruptions on the frontlines, sparking concerns that it had been turned off in areas controlled by Russia — possibly to prevent the Kremlin from exploiting the network itself.
Musk reacted to the article, claiming it’s “bad reporting.”
“This article falsely claims that Starlink terminals & service were paid for, when only a small percentage have been. This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year,” Musk tweeted.
According to a The Washington Post report, the US Agency for International Development paid SpaceX around US$2 million for 1,333 terminals to be deployed to Ukraine.
But “as for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified,” according to Musk.
His recently tweeted “peace plan” got flak for being mostly favored to Putin’s invasion goals. Most notably, he got the ire of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and top diplomat Andrij Melnyk.
These contrast with a recent tweet by Federov–who also serves as Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister–praising Starlink’s contribution to the country’s infrastructure.
Despite the seemingly frail attempt to appear neutral and supporting both sides, Musk isn’t completely viewed favorably.
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