Secretary of State Antony Blinken twice declined to criticize Elon Musk after the SpaceX founder stated he refused to assist the Ukrainian authorities entry his Starlink web service with a purpose to assault Russia.
Blinken was pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper to touch upon particulars in a brand new e book confirmed by Musk, together with that he refused the Ukrainian authorities’s requests to activate Starlink, a satellite tv for pc web service run by SpaceX, in Crimea so it may launch a submarine drone assault towards Russian naval forces.
“There was an emergency request from authorities authorities to activate Starlink all the way in which to Sevastopol,” Musk posted Thursday on X. “The plain intent being to sink many of the Russian fleet at anchor. If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX can be explicitly complicit in a significant act of struggle and battle escalation.”
Tapper requested Blinken whether or not Musk ought to face repercussions after he “successfully sabotaged a navy operation by Ukraine, a U.S. ally, towards Russia, an aggressor nation that invaded a U.S. ally.”
“Jake, I can not converse to a particular episode. This is what I can let you know: Starlink has been a significant instrument for the Ukrainians to have the ability to talk with one another and notably for the navy to speak of their effort to defend all of Ukraine’s territory.”
“I do not know which you could’t converse to it, you will not converse to it,” Tapper fired again. “Musk says he was reportedly afraid that Russia would retaliate with nuclear weapons. Musk says that is based mostly on his non-public discussions he had with senior Russian officers. Are you involved that Musk is seemingly conducting his personal diplomatic outreach to the Russian authorities? Actually, none of this issues you?”
“Jake, I can not converse to conversations which will or might not have occurred. I don’t know,” Blinked responded. “I am targeted on the truth that the know-how itself, Starlink, has been actually vital for Ukrainians. It stays so.”
Tapper argued, “It seems like Starlink’s so vital, the U.S. authorities would not need to danger offending a capricious billionaire who did some issues that I believe in one other scenario, the U.S. authorities would possibly need to say one thing about, however let’s transfer on.”
Musk’s tweet final week got here amid backlash over an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s new biography, “Elon Mus,ok” that was printed in The Washington Submit. Isaacson claimed within the excerpt that Musk had Starlink’s connection in Crimea shut off.
However Musk stated there was by no means Starlink protection in Crimea.
Isaacson posted a clarification on Friday, writing, “To make clear on the Starlink subject: the Ukrainians THOUGHT protection was enabled all the way in which to Crimea, nevertheless it was not. They requested Musk to allow it for his or her drone sub assault on the Russian fleet. Musk didn’t allow it, as a result of he thought, most likely accurately, that will trigger a significant struggle.”
Musk thanked Isaacson for the submit and added, “The onus is meaningfully completely different if I refused to behave upon a request from Ukraine vs. made a deliberate change to Starlink to thwart Ukraine.”
“At no level did I or anybody at SpaceX promise protection over Crimea,” Musk wrote. “Furthermore, our phrases of service clearly prohibit Starlink for offensive navy motion, as we’re a civilian system, in order that they have been once more asking for one thing that was expressly prohibited. SpaceX is constructing Starshield for the U.S. authorities, which has similarities to, however a lot smaller than, Starlink, because it is not going to should deal with hundreds of thousands of customers. That system can be owned and managed by the U.S. authorities.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, a prime aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, slammed Musk over the e book excerpt and accused him of costing lives.
“By not permitting Ukrainian drones to destroy a part of the Russian navy fleet through Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fireside Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities,” Podolyak wrote. “In consequence, civilians, kids are being killed. That is the worth of a cocktail of ignorance and large ego.”
Musk has beforehand defended limiting Ukraine’s use of Starlink for navy functions, declaring in February that SpaceX “is not going to allow escalation of battle which will result in WW3.”
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell introduced on the time that the corporate was limiting Ukraine from utilizing Starlink, however that it may nonetheless be used within the nation for typical communications and humanitarian reduction, like linking households and hospitals.
Musk tweeted final September that Starlink was designed for peaceable makes use of solely, and the phrases of use state that the web connections will not be for navy engagements.
Fox Information’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.