Elon Musk gave Ukraine access to SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet at the outset of Russia's invasion of the country, but the erratic billionare was soon talking privately with Vladimir Putin and now, we learn, secretly ordered Starlink engineers to disrupt a counterattack launched by Ukraine against Russia's fleet. The revelation comes from a new biography by Walter Isaacson.
Musk's decision, which left Ukrainian officials begging him to turn the satellites back on, was driven by an acute fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack on Crimea with nuclear weapons, a fear driven home by Musk's conversations with senior Russian officials, according to Isaacson, whose new book is set to be released by Simon & Schuster on September 12.
As Ukrainian submarine drones strapped with explosives approached the Russian fleet, they "lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly," Isaacson writes.
There's a lot of speculation online among pundits over what it all means, but they're all missing one thing: his capricious "cave submarine"-style meddling means both Ukraine and Russia have an interest in killing him—but not until the war ends.
Another juicy detail from the except: Musk, on one of his needy nights on Twitter, wrecked a $145m deal that would have seen the U.S. taxpayer footing the bill for Starlink.
Gwynne Shotwell, Musk's president at SpaceX, was livid at Musk's reversal, according to Isaacson.
"The Pentagon had a $145 million check ready to hand to me, literally," Isaacson quotes Shotwell as saying. "Then Elon succumbed to the bullshit on Twitter and to the haters at the Pentagon who leaked the story."