Elon Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur and a key player in Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, ordered Starlink engineers to geofence the communications network Ukraine relied on to prevent the Ukrainian Navy from striking the Russian Black Sea Fleet anchored in Sevastopol. According to Walter Isaacson’s book, which has yet to be released, “Elon Musk” was convinced that senior Russian officials would use nuclear weapons to respond to an attack.
Isaacson asks Musk, “How do I fit into this war?” “Starlink wasn’t meant to get involved in wars.” The purpose of Starlink was to allow people to watch Netflix, chill out, and go online for school or do peaceful things. Not drone strikes.
Musk has responded to the article, revealing some of his thoughts.
Elon Musk and Ukraine: Why Money Can’t Buy Morality or Common Sense
Musk’s fanbois and Russian sympathizers hail his decision to save Russia from an embarrassing defeat by Musk as a supreme act of statesmanship. It’s not. Cowardice was the cause. Review the bid.
Musk responded to the Russian cyberattacks, which had severely hampered the Ukrainian military and government’s ability to communicate. This was just hours after the Russian invasion started.
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Twitter was used by the Russian government to inform him that his actions interfered with Russia’s highest priority. This tweet would have made him stop in his tracks if he were truly worried about an escalation.
Dmitry @Rogozin to Russia Today: “When Russia implements its highest national interests on the territory of Ukraine, @elonmusk appears with his Starlink which was previously declared as purely civilian. Here is this mud (мурло) opened himself…” https://t.co/8htcXn0Ymn
— Katya Pavlushchenko (@katlinegrey) March 2, 2022
Musk may ask, “How do I fit into this war?” This is the answer. He is “in this conflict” because he entered a conflict. Why? It’s difficult to say. It’s hard to tell. I haven’t seen many saints in my life.
Musk’s comments on Ukraine, however, make it easy to mistake Musk for an influencer who is pro-Russian. He retweeted a pro-Russian account without questioning it. Musk’s followers were not fooled by the smallest amount of due diligence.
Elon Musk and Ukraine: Why Money Can’t Buy Morality or Common Sense
David Sacks, a close friend of his, promotes Kremlin talking points daily. This article summarises the situations that might make someone curious. Could it be related to his highly contested takeover of Twitter, and his attempt to curry favor with Twitter’s loudest voices of leftists? You can’t escape the impression he has created.
Although the story of Musk sandbagging an important Ukrainian military operation may be new, Starlink’s inability to work within Russia or Crimea has been known for a long time. This Economist piece is from March 20, 2030.
Starlink satellites from Elon Musk, which operate at frequencies and numbers that Russian systems find difficult to jam, appeared to be the Ukrainians’ first choice for controlling drones beyond Russian lines. This gap was reportedly exploited by a naval drone attack in October on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Musk, who is apparently concerned about the potential escalation of such actions, has intervened where Russian technology failed. Starlink uses geofencing now to block the use of its terminals. This is not only over Russian-occupied territories inside Ukraine but also according to a Ukrainian military intelligence source above water and when the receiving device is moving faster than 100km/h. He says that if you put the device on a ship at sea, it will stop working. Ukraine’s drone designers now use other, more costly communication systems. Multiple systems are often mounted on the same vehicle. The fact that the attack of February 28th was able to get so close to Moscow indicates that Ukraine is getting closer to a working solution.
The excerpts from Isaacson’s book don’t tell us when Musk met with the unnamed Russian officials to discuss Armageddon. It’s likely that the meeting took place following the Ukrainian drone strike on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol on July 31, during the “Navy Day celebrations”.
Isaacson’s book also mentions a planned attack that would have taken place shortly before September 21, 2022. The Russians were able to see how the unmanned surface vehicles, which were built by Ukraine and had Starlink antennas attached, worked on that day.
— War Noir (@war_noir) September 21, 2022
CNN has a report on a book that is yet to be seen
Musk, who owns the platform X (formerly known as Twitter), posted that “there was an urgent request from the government authorities to activate Starlink to Sevastopol.” Sevastopol, a Crimean port city, is the name of this city. “The obvious intention was to sink the Russian fleet at its anchor. SpaceX would have been complicit if I had accepted their request.
CNN reports that Musk called the planned attack a “mini Pearl Harbor.” Here’s a flag. It would be more accurate to compare it with a miniature Port Arthur as the attack was a naval night strike against a sleeping Russian Fleet and didn’t involve any airplanes.
We don’t need to do a “what-if” scenario to find out what would have happened if Musk, in my opinion, had done the right thing. Musk’s fear that a nuclear war would be triggered by an attack on Sevastopol came to a head on October 28, when Ukrainian USVs entered Black Sea Fleet anchorage. Admiral Makarov was damaged, which replaced the Moskva, as the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship. Spoiler alert: There was not a nuclear response. It also shows that the Ukrainians who are much more familiar with the Russians than Musk is, understood the threat to be bluster.
We have some serious issues to address, both from Isaacson’s work and Musk’s Tweet.
Why did Musk contact leaders in Russia? The US did not declare war on Russia but it chose sides well before September. Musk was unable to do business in Russia due to sanctions imposed by the US and EU. What was the topic? Musk said that the Ukrainians had enough faith in him to send the “emergency” request for Starlink “all the way up to Sevastopol.” It is not necessary to be on the right side of the IQ Bell Curve in order to understand what this means. This means he was in contact with Ukrainians and they believed that he was on their side. They also thought he would be trusted to handle highly classified information. Who is to blame? He had given them a communication network. He stopped cooperating at this crucial point. He demanded payment for his free services less than a week later.
We can learn from this that money cannot buy good judgment. Musk decided to join the war for whatever reason. He was more foolish if he believed that Starlink would only be used to communicate within Ukraine. He contacted “senior Russian official” friends once he became involved in the conflict and Ukraine began to rely on him. They then used the old “we’ll nuke you if you do this” line that Putin and his cronies throw around like beads during Mardi Gras. Russia had already threatened to use nuclear force five times before the attack on Sevastopol. Each time, it was ignored. Musk’s deception shows that the old saying “If you are at a poker table and do not see a sucker get up” is true. You are the fool.”
Musk’s appeal for “escalation”, etc., is not a morally superior position. The Moskva was sunk. Bucha’s truth was now known. Musk’s Starlink was the only thing that kept Ukraine in the battle. He didn’t seem to have considered that knocking out the Black Sea Fleet could lead to negotiations. The ships that he saved from Sevastopol were regularly sent into the Black Sea in order to launch cruise missiles against Ukrainian cities. The sequence of events is even more damning. The Ukrainians did not launch the operation knowing that Starlink wouldn’t work in the targeted area. They were either led to believe or told it would, but then the carpet was pulled out from under them when they launched their attack.
Musk is a businessman I admire, and in the case of Tesla his ability to get subsidies from the US Government, but he seems to suffer from a severe Dunning-Kruger Effect. Intelligence in one area does not necessarily translate into intelligence in another. You can see Dunning Kruger in action by talking to an MD about a subject where you are knowledgeable or have the expertise and they are not. You’ll be surprised at how little you actually know.
Musk’s actions, whatever his intentions, are typical of the Silicon Valley stereotype. Musk is a megawealthy, tech-bro without morals, who has no knowledge of history, foreign policy, politics, or political science. He may also be deluded into thinking that his popularity does not have anything to do with his bank account.