Elon Musk is keeping his string of negative news headlines alive, this time hindering the interests of American foreign policy. Musk was quite vocal about his cooperation with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy regime in February 2022 when he provided Starlink terminals to the Ukrainian military for operational coordination. However, his position has slowly degraded over time, shown by Musk’s statements on X in October of last year, implying it was becoming too costly to operate. He stated that “this operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by the end of the year.” This was followed by a request for U.S. subsidized payments to SpaceX for continual assistance to Ukrainian intelligence.
Now, almost a year after Musk’s shift from unconditional support for Ukraine, it has been reported by the Associated Press that Starlink services were denied to Ukrainian officials who requested Starlink coverage of the Crimean Peninsula in the Russian Federation.
This was done as a measure to prevent the escalation of the conflict, according to Musk. He said he viewed a Ukrainian attack on Russian ships anchored on the Crimean Peninsula as an escalatory attack on the territories in possession of the Russian Federation. He explained that SpaceX’s choice to decline coverage would prevent his brand from being “explicitly complicit in a major act of war.”
Musk addressed the controversy on X by saying that “at no point did I or anyone at SpaceX promise coverage over Crimea… our terms of service clearly prohibit Starlink for offensive military action.”
Musk’s status as a commercial actor as opposed to a defensive military contractor allowed him to do this, but since then he has agreed to sell Starlink equipment and services to the American government.