Elon Musk has blocked the use of Starlink equipment for internet access in occupied Crimea, apparently out of fear that a possible Ukrainian offensive will lead to nuclear war.
In a statement given to military analyst Ian Bremmer, the SpaceX chief confirmed that he personally rejected Ukrainian requests to expand Starlink coverage in Crimea, arguing that efforts to retake the peninsula annexed by Russia since 2014 could lead to nuclear conflict.
Specifically, Musk fears that the thousands of Starlink equipment donated to Ukraine since the beginning of the war to facilitate reconnaissance missions and effective coordination of troops in so-called “dead zones” where the Russian military has destroyed ground communications infrastructure could now be used to facilitate an offensive in Crimea.
Low power consumption and portable enough to be carried in a backpack, Starlink equipment allows Ukrainian elite troops to penetrate deep behind enemy lines without breaking communication with command centers. Starlink antennas can also be configured as internet access points for drones sent on reconnaissance missions, which can then transmit valuable real-time information about Russian army movements, such as precise coordinates for hitting ground targets. Last but not least, drones used in kamikaze missions can be controlled from a great distance, navigating through enemy positions to the chosen target. Elon Musk fears that the potentially decisive advantage gained with Starlink equipment could escalate the conflict, drawing the US into a nuclear war with Russia.
Meanwhile, Starlink equipment continues to be extremely useful in other regions of Ukraine, thwarting Russia’s efforts to institute a total blackout by systematically bombing the country’s energy infrastructure. Thus, despite widespread blackouts that keep even mobile phone relays down, essential communications can continue without major disruption.