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11 Sep, 2023 19:28

Musk responds to Ukraine ‘treason’ claims

The billionaire has dismissed criticism over his refusal to help Kiev attack the Russian naval fleet in Crimea
Musk responds to Ukraine ‘treason’ claims

American tech billionaire Elon Musk has responded to criticism over his refusal to help enable a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian naval forces in Crimea by pointing out that he’s a citizen of the US and isn’t obliged to fight for Kiev.

“I am a citizen of the United States and have only that passport,” Musk said on Monday in a post on his X (formerly Twitter) social media platform. “No matter what happens, I will fight for and die in America.” He added that in light of the fact that the US Congress hasn’t declared war on Russia, “if anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such. Please tell them that very clearly.”

At issue is Musk’s decision last year to prevent his Starlink satellite network from being used to guide Ukrainian naval drones for an attack against the Russian Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean coast. When news of Musk’s refusal came to light last week, US media outlets suggested that he had been traitorous, and Ukrainian presidential aide Mikhail Podoliak accused him of “committing evil and encouraging evil.”

The Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder gave Ukraine free use of more than 20,000 Starlink terminals after Russia launched its military offensive against Kiev in February 2022. His aim was to keep Ukrainians from losing internet access and communications capabilities amid the conflict.

However, Musk expressed concern about his network being used for offensive purposes and potentially playing part in triggering a wider conflict. He therefore refused Kiev’s pleas to extend the country’s Starlink coverage all the way to Sevastopol. “If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”

CNN host Jake Tapper argued on Sunday that Musk had “effectively sabotaged” an American ally, and he asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken whether the “capricious billionaire” should therefore face “repercussions.” Blinken declined to condemn Musk and pointed out that Starlink had been a vital tool for Ukraine’s defense.