In 2022, Elon Musk deliberately shut down Starlink to thwart a Ukrainian attack on Sevastopol

In 2022, Elon Musk deliberately ordered the shutdown of Starlink satellite communications near the Crimean coast to disrupt Ukraine’s attack on the Russian navy in Sevastopol.

According to CNN, citing an unreleased biography of Musk written by American journalist and author Walter Isaacson, the billionaire’s decision was driven by an acute fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack on Crimea with nuclear weapons.

  • Elon Musk secretly ordered his engineers to turn off his company’s Starlink satellite communications network near the Crimean coast last year to disrupt a Ukrainian sneak attack on the Russian naval fleet.
  • As Ukrainian submarine drones strapped with explosives approached the Russian fleet, they “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly,” Isaacson writes.
  • Musk’s decision, which left Ukrainian officials begging him to turn the satellites back on, was driven by a fear that Russia will utilize nuclear weapons in response to the Ukrainian attack on Crimea. Important to note, this fear was driven home by Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials.
  • Musk’s concerns over a “mini-Pearl Harbor” did not come to pass in Crimea. But the episode reveals the unique position Musk found himself in as the war in Ukraine unfolded.
  • Whether intended or not, he became an influential agent who also allowed the Kremlin to influence his views and decisions. As a result, existential fears led Musk to reject Ukrainian requests for Starlink systems that they could use to attack the Russians.