A senior Ukrainian official has accused tech billionaire Elon Musk of “committing evil” after a new biography revealed details about how he refused to grant Ukraine permission to use his Starlink satellite network to prevent a drone attack on Russian warships last year.
In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that Mr Musk’s interference led to the deaths of civilians. “This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego,” Mr Podolyak wrote.
“By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian fleet via Starlink interference, @elonmusk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities. As a result, civilians, and children are being killed,” he tweeted.
Sometimes a mistake is much more than just a mistake. By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military (!) fleet via #Starlink interference, @elonmusk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities. As a result, civilians, children are…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) September 7, 2023
“Why do some people so desperately want to defend war criminals and their desire to commit murder? And do they now realise that they are committing evil and encouraging evil?” the Ukrainian official added.
Mr Podolyak’s statement comes in the wake of claims in a new biography of the tech billionaire. An extract of the book, published by CNN, described how armed submarine drones were approaching a Russian fleet near the Crimean coast when they “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly”.
The book alleges that Mr Musk ordered Starlink engineers to turn off the service in the area of the attack because of his concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin would respond with nuclear weapons to a Ukrainian attack on Russian-occupied Crimea.
However, in a post on X, Mr Musk has denied accusations that he had turned off the Starlink network in the area. Instead, he claimed that he had simply not agreed to a request from Ukraine to activate it all the way to the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. He said that he did not want his SpaceX company to be “explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation”.
“The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything,” the billionaire claimed in another post.
Notably, Walter Isaacson’s new biography, simply tiled ‘Elon Musk’, officially releases on September 12.