Blinken on Elon Musk's Alleged Sabotage of Ukrainian War Effort
Secretary of State Blinken avoids questions about Elon Musk's alleged role in crippling Ukrainian war efforts with Starlink internet access.
In a recent interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Secretary of State Antony Blinken avoided addressing reports that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, hindered Ukrainian war efforts by denying Starlink internet access for a crucial drone attack on a Russian fleet. The claims were made in a biography about Musk, which stated that he disregarded Ukrainian officials' request to use Starlink in the Black Sea attack.
When asked about this specific incident, Blinken chose not to comment directly. However, he did acknowledge the significance of Starlink in facilitating communication among Ukrainians and the military's efforts to defend the country's territory.
It is worth noting that Musk has previously clashed with the US government, claiming that Ukraine did not adequately compensate SpaceX for providing access to Starlink. Starlink is a network of satellites that can provide internet connectivity to remote areas.
Musk revealed that officials wanted him to extend internet access all the way to Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea that was annexed by Russia in 2014. However, he declined the request, expressing his desire to avoid being involved in a major act of war and escalation of conflict.
The author of the book on Musk, Walter Isaacson, later clarified that Ukrainians mistakenly believed that Starlink coverage extended to Crimea. This misunderstanding led to erroneous reports suggesting that Musk intentionally cut off access.
Nevertheless, this incident highlights Musk's considerable influence over government policies, particularly concerning the critical role of Starlink in Ukrainian military communications. CNN host Jake Tapper remarked that Starlink is so crucial that the US government appears unwilling to risk offending a powerful billionaire like Musk, a comment that Blinken chose not to engage with.
Musk hinted at the development of a "Starshield" system, which would offer similar functionality to Starlink but would be owned and controlled by the US government.
Behind the scenes, Musk expressed concerns that Russia might respond to an attack on its naval fleet with nuclear weapons. Blinken acknowledged that the potential actions of Russia have always been a factor in decision-making for the US and its allies.
When asked about any correspondence between Musk and the Russian government, Blinken declined to comment, stating that he was unaware of any such conversations.
During his visit to Ukraine last week, Blinken announced $1 billion in aid to support the war-torn nation.