Elon Musk says SpaceX restricted internet in Ukraine to prevent escalation ‘that may lead to WW3’
‘We’re trying hard to do the right thing,’ says billionaire.
SpaceX’s recent restriction on the Ukrainian military’s use of its satellite internet service for drone control was to prevent the conflict from escalating into a world war, according to Elon Musk.
Answering a request from a former NASA astronaut to restore full access to the internet for Ukrainian forces, SpaceX CEO Musk tweeted late Sunday: “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.”
The U.S. space company, founded by the billionaire entrepreneur, has been using its Starlink satellite internet service to keep Ukraine online since the beginning of the war, as Ukrainian infrastructure was severely damaged by Russian attacks.
Last week, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the service, which has been used by Ukrainian forces to control drones, was “never meant to be weaponized,” adding that the company had taken steps to curb its use, without spelling out what measures had been taken.
“Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement,” Shotwell said.
The news caused uproar in Ukraine, with Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeting that companies had to decide if they were “on the side of Ukraine and the right to freedom” or “on [Russia’s] side and its ‘right’ to kill and seize territories.”
Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov told POLITICO there had been “no problems” with Starlink terminals in Ukraine so far, adding that these “save[d] thousands of lives daily.”
In another comment on Sunday, Musk noted that SpaceX’s internet terminals were “meant for private use, not military” but that the company had not “exercised [its] rights to turn them off.”
“We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the ‘right thing’ is an extremely difficult moral question,” Musk added.
The entrepreneur has regularly used Twitter to express his views on the war in Ukraine.
Last October, he raised concerns in Kyiv and among allies after posting a series of tweets picking up Kremlin talking points, presenting them as a peace plan. Later that month, Musk said he was no longer willing to pay for the Starlink terminals in Ukraine, and asked the U.S. Department of Defense to pick up the bill instead.
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