American billionaire Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX, Tesla and through its satellite, Internet access in the Black Sea, near Crimea annexed by Moscow.
“We have received an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink to Sevastopol. The obvious intention was to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor,” he posted on Thursday September 7 in a tweet, published in response to an extract from a biography to be published on September 12, which he wrote devoted, claiming that “the region’s Starlink [satellites] were not active. SpaceX didn’t deactivate anything.” “If I had accepted their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and an escalation of conflict,” he added.
A “mini-Pearl Harbor prevented”, according to Musk
In an extract published Thursday by the Washington Post, the author, American journalist Walter Isaacson, claims that the boss of Starlink feared that Moscow would respond with nuclear weapons to a Ukrainian attack inflicting a "mini-Pearl Harbor" (from name of the Japanese surprise attack in 1941 that led to the United States' entry into World War II) on the Russian Crimean fleet, a fear reinforced by his conversations with Russian officials.
He writes that in September 2022, “the Ukrainian military attempted a masked attack on the Russian naval fleet based in Sevastopol, sending six small underwater drones packed with explosives, using Starlink” to guide them to their target . Mr. Isaacson points out that the tycoon then “spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States… who explicitly told him that a Ukrainian attack on Crimea would result in a nuclear response.” According to Isaacson, Mr. Musk therefore “secretly told his engineers to disable coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast. When Ukrainian drones approached the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and beached harmlessly.”
Internet service via the Starlink satellite, operated by Musk-owned SpaceX, was deployed in Ukraine shortly after its invasion by Russia in February 2022. The city of Sevastopol is home to the base of the Russian fleet positioned in the Black Sea on the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.