Clarifying the Details on Starlink’s Usage in Ukraine

A recent news story surrounding Elon Musk’s control over Starlink’s usage in Ukraine has been corrected by Walter Isaacson, author of the upcoming biography titled “Elon Musk.” The controversy arose after media outlets covered excerpts from the book prior to its release, with a particular focus on the claim that Musk had turned off Starlink’s satellite communications network during a Ukrainian military operation.

The Washington Post published an excerpt from the book that suggested Musk had ordered the shutdown of Starlink’s coverage near the Crimean coast, potentially jeopardizing the Ukrainian military’s operations against Russia’s navy. It portrayed Musk as fearing an escalation into nuclear conflict and receiving pleas from Ukrainian officials to restore access.

However, Isaacson clarified on social media that the Ukrainians had mistakenly believed that Starlink’s coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea. In reality, coverage had been disabled within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast before the attack commenced. The Ukrainians only realized this during the operation and urgently requested Musk to activate the coverage, which he refused to do.

Isaacson admitted to a mistake in his previous understanding of the situation, stating that he had incorrectly believed that Musk’s policy to not allow Starlink to be used in an attack on Crimea had been decided on the night of the Ukrainian attempted sneak attack. Musk clarified that the policy had already been implemented before the incident.

As a result of this clarification, media outlets adjusted their reporting on the Starlink access issue. The Washington Post issued a correction, acknowledging that Isaacson had “mischaracterized” the circumstances and explaining that Musk had already disabled coverage near the Crimean coast before the attack took place. The corrected version reflects this change.

Overall, while the original narrative surrounding Musk’s control over Starlink’s usage in Ukraine caused significant uproar, the clarified details paint a different picture. The Ukrainians were unaware that Starlink’s coverage had been disabled, leading to their requests to reactivate it during the operation. Musk’s decision not to enable the coverage was based on his concerns about the potential consequences of a major war.