Walter Isaacson’s official biography of Elon Musk is being revised just before its release, following the sharing of controversial excerpts. One revelation in the book is an “untold story” about Musk’s alleged intervention to prevent a potential attack on a Russian naval base by Ukrainian forces.
However, Isaacson has acknowledged a significant error in the narrative. He initially claimed that Musk had secretly ordered engineers to deactivate Starlink wireless coverage over Crimea. Musk, on the other hand, denied giving such an order and clarified that he had withheld an emergency request to activate network connectivity in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Isaacson subsequently corrected the record and accepted responsibility for getting this crucial detail wrong. He realized that the policy to not allow Starlink for an attack on Crimea had been implemented earlier but was unknown to the Ukrainians.
The fallout from the initial version of events was intense, with some branding Musk as a traitor and calling for the seizure and nationalization of SpaceX and Starlink. Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended Musk, emphasizing that Starlink was a vital tool for Ukraine.
Granting Ukraine access to Starlink during the war posed risks, with Musk even fearing potential assassination attempts by Putin. However, Musk’s public refusal of the Ukrainian request would have been difficult given the support for Ukraine and the opportunity it provided for him to be hailed as a hero.
As the war continued, Musk grew increasingly concerned about the situation. He pondered ways to bring peace to Ukraine, worried about the potential for nuclear retaliation if Crimea became a line in the sand, and proposed the idea of Russia keeping illegally seized territory in exchange for a ceasefire.
Isaacson’s published excerpt has been updated to reflect the corrected version of events. The revisions to the biography raise questions about the accuracy of other details within the book.