The internet is raging because Elon Musk didn’t want to take part in a devastating strike against the Russian fleet. What is forgotten is that Musk only recognized the primacy of politics. Because in 2022, no ally has given Kiev weapons to strike so far behind the front.
These days, Elon Musk is the “man you love to hate” – these were the words that were once used to advertise the Hollywood legend Erich von Stroheim. With the purchase of Twitter – now known as X – the unreflective fan-boy enthusiasm of Musk’s Tesla era turned into mockery. Often just as little reflected as the former admiration.
Attack on the Black Sea Fleet
Now a new scandal is challenging the critics: Elon Musk openly admits that he did not support the Ukrainian armed forces in an attack on the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. He is said to have cut off Starlink support in the area of Russian annexed/occupied Crimea. The Ukrainian drones, whether in the air or in the water, were controlled remotely via the satellite system owned by Musk. This is what Walter Isaacson writes in his biography of the billionaire.
Musk was intimidated by the Russian ambassador, who told him that a major strike against the Black Sea Fleet would result in a Russian nuclear strike. Musk, a private citizen, did not want to bear responsibility for such an escalation.
On X and Twitter, Musk partially confirmed the representation, but he rejected others. He posted that he didn’t have to cut off Crimea because these regions weren’t even unlocked. The Ukrainian authorities wanted to activate Starlink as far as Sevastopol, “the intention was to sink the majority of the Russian fleet anchored there. If I had agreed to the request, SpaceX would clearly have become part of a significant act of war and an escalation of the conflict.”
Governments more cautious than Elon Musk
Because of the lack of support, he is now being insulted online as an accomplice of Moscow, and the question is being raised as to how it is possible that a private individual can have so much influence on Ukraine’s struggle.
Both accusations are quickly made, but have little substance.
First to private individuals: It is true that the Starlink system made a decisive contribution to Kiev surviving the year 2022. Among other things, the satellites ran a system for coordinating artillery strikes that was far superior to that of the Russians at the time. With its help, the Ukrainian troops were able to receive fire support much more quickly and accurately than the Russians.
Musk’s company Space-X had a decisive influence on the war. But what is there to criticize about it? If it weren’t for Musk or Starlink, there would be no private interference in the war, but then Kiev wouldn’t have been able to use a satellite system at all. That would certainly have been in Putin’s interest, but not in Ukraine’s interest.
And one thing should not be forgotten: the private company Space-X provided services that Ukraine’s Western allies refused to provide. Military satellites, surveillance aircraft or drones could also have guided the Ukrainian long-range weapons to their target.
The same applies to the naval port of Sevastopol. At the time of Musk’s decision, Western allies did not give Ukraine any weapons that could have reached the port, although of course these systems were in place. In fact, Musk is being told that he should have overtaken his own government and done things that the US president denies. A daring maneuver for a US company to counteract the security policy of the White House.
Politics increased support only in small doses
Throughout the war, the West’s strategy has been to gradually increase military aid to Kiev in small doses. It’s a kind of salami tactic that avoids making a big impact so as not to provoke Moscow. One consequence of this is that the respective military equipment always arrives very late and in small numbers. Kiev’s forces would certainly have achieved better results in the war if they had acted more quickly and forcefully. This strategy is a thorn in the side of many, but the recipients of this criticism are political leaders like Biden and Scholz and not Elon Musk.
Who actually did more?
He can at least claim to have supported Kiev like no other private citizen. And not with fiery speeches, brave support posts and humanitarian aid, but with direct support on the battlefield. The well-known arms companies are also committed to Kiev, but for them the war is also a business. Your help is always rewarded by the taxpayers of the western countries. Space-X claimed that it had borne a significant portion of the Ukraine costs itself for a long time. This support came directly from Musk’s pocket. To paraphrase a Bible phrase: Let whoever has done more for Ukraine cast the first stone.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.