Did Elon Musk Turn Off Ukraine Military's Internet? CEO Says He Made Major Move to Prevent 'WW3'
Elon Musk is involved in many events of global significance. On Sunday, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO used his Twitter platform to discuss a potentially significant development in the grueling war in Ukraine.
A year ago, Musk announced that SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was active in Ukraine, where the Russian invasion was vastly disrupting internet access. Starlink became the go-to internet provider for the country as the war dragged on.
Last week, however, SpaceX announced it would limit Ukraine’s use of the service in connection with “offensive” military operations such as drones.
Speaking Feb. 8 at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Starlink was provided to the country for humanitarian applications, SpaceNews reported.
“It was never intended to be weaponized, but the Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement,” Shotwell said.
“We know the military is using them for comms and that’s OK,” she said. “But our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes.”
Even though the move seemed like a blow against Ukrainian forces in their war against Russia, Musk said Sunday it was aimed at preventing an even greater escalation into a third world war.
Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted an urgent message to Musk on Saturday advocating for full Starlink service to Ukraine.
“Ukraine desperately needs your continued support,” said Kelly, the twin brother of Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. “Please restore the full functionality of your Starlink satellites. Defense from a genocidal invasion is not an offensive capability. It’s survival. Innocent lives will be lost. You can help. Thank you.”
Musk replied, “You’re smart enough not to swallow media and other propaganda bs. Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed. But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.”
You’re smart enough not to swallow media & other propaganda bs.
Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed.
But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 12, 2023
In another tweet, Musk clarified further.
“SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off,” he said. “We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the ‘right thing’ is an extremely difficult moral question.”
SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off.
We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the “right thing” is an extremely difficult moral question.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 12, 2023
SpaceX sent more than 5,000 Starlink satellite internet dishes to Ukraine, according to Foreign Policy’s Situation Report.
In October, Musk raised the possibility of ending the donated service, but he soon backtracked, saying on Twitter, “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.”
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
The limitations on Starlink come as experts predict the war in Ukraine will intensify in the coming spring and summer months.
Tensions between Russia and the United States rose when the Biden administration announced last month that 31 U.S.-manufactured M1 Abrams tanks would be sent to Ukraine. This reversed an earlier decision not to provide that kind of weaponry.
In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said weapons shipments from NATO countries were a proxy war against Russia, increasing the risk of nuclear conflict. Lavrov said, “The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.”
In October, former President Donald Trump cautioned about where reckless policies could lead.
“We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in World War III, and there will be nothing left of our planet all because stupid people didn’t have a clue. They didn’t have a clue,” Trump said.
In the same month, Musk offered proposals for a negotiated peace plan for Russia and Ukraine. Leftists attacked him as a supporter of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, ignoring all the support Musk gave Ukraine.
A recent report claiming the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage in September was an American operation represents another dangerous escalation.
There is a serious issue with the assistance Starlink is providing Ukraine. Russia is threatening nuclear war because it asserts the conflict in Ukraine has become a proxy war for NATO. The same assertion could be used against American companies boosting Ukraine’s military.
Putin must suspect Musk is just another proxy player doing his part to hide how involved U.S. intelligence agencies and military are in fighting Russia. Could Russian leaders use SpaceX’s support of the Ukraine military to justify using force against America? It is a possibility.
The de-escalation of SpaceX’s involvement in kinetic military action might prevent such retaliation — and, as Musk said, head off World War III.
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