According to CNN, businessman Elon Musk thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula last year. The American news channel bases itself on passages from an authorized biography about the billionaire that is yet to be published. Musk has not yet responded to the publication.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky says the businessman has made a big mistake. “As a result, civilians and children are being killed. That is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and a big ego,” adviser Podoljak said in a message addressed to Musk on social media.
According to the CNN publication, Musk had instructed employees of his company Starlink to disconnect the Internet connection in the area of the Ukrainian attack attempt. As a result, the submarine drones carrying explosives lost connection near Crimea. The drones, which went out of control, were then said to have washed up off the coast. It is unclear when in 2022 this would have happened.
According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Musk acted out of fear of a Russian nuclear retaliation against Ukraine. Ukraine has now carried out numerous drone attacks on the peninsula, which has been annexed by Russia, without the Kremlin deploying nuclear weapons.
Since the outbreak of war, Ukraine has been largely dependent on Musk’s Starlink satellites for internet access. The entrepreneur has thus become a powerful geopolitical player. He also regularly intervenes in discussions about the war. For example, he openly criticized the US supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Sources in Ukraine previously reported that Musk had disabled the satellites.
On the phone with advisor Biden
“How did I get into this war?” the billionaire said, according to biographer Isaacson. “Starlink was for Netflix and chilling (…) for peaceful stuff, not drone strikes.”
According to CNN, Musk was on the phone with President Biden’s national security advisor and the Russian ambassador to the US shortly after the sabotage action.
The deputy prime minister of Ukraine is said to have begged the billionaire to restore the internet connection for the submarine drones. In a text message he explained what the drones were capable of, CNN quotes from the biography.
Musk reportedly said in response that he was impressed by the Ukrainian drones. Nevertheless, he did not change tack. He would not have turned the satellites back on because Ukraine “is now going too far and would incur a strategic loss.”
‘Why protect war criminals?’
Podoljak, Zelelensky’s adviser, says Musk’s actions have had major consequences. By preventing Ukraine from destroying “part of the Russian fleet,” these warships were able to target Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles, Podoljak writes. He also wonders “why some people are so eager to protect war criminals.”
The billionaire has also been in contact with Russian officials, according to the CNN article. It remains unclear when these conversations would have taken place and what was discussed.
Pentagon officials previously told The New Yorker that Musk has been in contact with Putin. The Starlink owner then said that he spoke with the Russian president once, but that was more than a year before the war. “The topic of conversation then was space,” he said on his social platform Twitter, now called X.
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