Elon Musk Limits Starlink Access In Ukraine Due to World War Fears
The Russo-Ukrainian War has been raging since February 24, 2022. During these tumultuous times, various world leaders pleaded for continued internet access for Ukrainians.
In response, Elon Musk volunteered to provide online connectivity with his Starlink terminals. People applauded him for using satellite internet for the good.
However, he recently declined to provide internet access for the Ukrainian military. Musk fears his actions could potentially escalate tensions into the next World War.
Why did Elon Musk restrict internet connectivity to Ukraine’s military?
SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off.
We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the “right thing” is an extremely difficult moral question.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 12, 2023
Musk’s refusal came about when former NASA Astronaut and US Navy Captain Scott Kelly asked him a question.
Kelly inquired about reports that the billionaire would restrict the Ukrainian military from accessing Starlink.
On February 11, the former spaceman tweeted, “Ukraine desperately needs your continued support. Please restore the full functionality of your Starlink satellites.”
“Defense from a genocidal invasion is not an offensive capability. It’s survival.”
“Innocent lives will be lost. You can help. Thank you.”
In response, the Chief Twit replied that he would not exacerbate the ongoing conflict and potentially lead to WW3.
Musk said, “You’re smart enough not to swallow media & other propaganda bs. Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines.…”
“…where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed. But we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.”
Moreover, Elon Musk replied to a blogger about his continued support for the war-torn nation.
“SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off,” he stressed.
Yet, “We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the ‘right thing’ is an extremely difficult moral question,” he continued.
One of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aides, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted an ultimatum to SpaceX.
He told the CEO to decide whether it is on the side of Ukraine’s right to freedom or Russia’s “‘right’ to kill & seize territories.”
Yet, Musk said there had been no signs of any potential interruptions to Starlink access in Ukraine.
Why does Elon Musk worry Starlink could escalate tensions?
It is easy to assume that providing internet access is humanitarian during a war. After all, it allows people to contact relatives they may have left during the chaos.
Online connectivity also enables civilians to request urgent help. There is nothing wrong with that, isn’t there?
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell also said a few words about Elon Musk’s refusal to provide further internet access.
She said, “Ukrainians have leveraged [Starlink] in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement.” Shotwell reiterated, “It was never intended to be weaponized.
Ukrainian forces have been using Starlink internet to operate battlefield drones.
These flying machines enable fighters to locate enemy combatants and call long-range bombing strikes.
In response, Russia may assume Starlink is taking sides in the conflict. Since it is an American firm, the country may use it as a cause to take further military action.
Vladimir Putin threatened to start a nuclear war if it fails to take Ukraine. If he follows through on his statements, it could be disastrous for everyone on Earth.
If not, Russia’s allies may view a possible US involvement as a cause to enter the conflict themselves.
That was how the First and Second World Wars sparked. The perceived escalation between two conflicting nations spurred their allies to take up arms and join the fray.
Elon Musk struggles between two moral dilemmas. He could continue providing internet access and risk endangering other nations.
On the other hand, the CEO could bar access from Ukraine’s military. He chose the latter while promising to continue Starlink for the rest of Ukraine.
Nevertheless, you can see how technology can serve as a force for good and conflict in this issue. Learn more about how it could improve your life by following the latest tech trends at Inquirer USA.