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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Musk says would have activated Starlink over Crimea for Ukraine attack if told so by Biden

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Washington: US tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said he would have activated the Starlink satellite network over Crimea had he been directed to do so by President Joe Biden in support of Ukraine’s attempt to attack the Russian navy in the Black Sea.

Last week, US media reported that Musk rejected Ukraine’s request to activate Starlink services near Crimea in 2022, which disrupted a Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian naval fleet.

“Although I’m not President Biden’s biggest fan, if I received a presidential directive to turn it on, I would’ve done so… no such request came through,” Musk said on Tuesday.

Crimea rejoined Russia after a referendum was held there in March 2014 following a coup in Ukraine. The Russian leadership has repeatedly stated that the Crimean residents democratically, in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter, voted for reunification with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Crimea issue is “closed.”

Musk said the Starlink services are turned off in regions around Crimea because the United States has sanctions against Russia, which includes Crimea, and the company is not allowed to grant connectivity to a sanctioned country without US government approval.

Musk also said Ukraine did not give any advance warning about its plans to attack the Russian naval fleet in Crimea, adding that SpaceX received urgent calls from the Ukrainian government “in middle of the night” requesting the company to activate Starlink over the peninsula.

Musk emphasised that the Ukrainian government is not in charge of US citizens or companies, which was met with applause from the crowd attending the summit in Los Angeles, California.

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