Author Corrects Reporting On Elon Musk Cutting Ukraine’s Access To Starlink

Author Walter Isaacson corrected a media narrative that exploded late last week after an excerpt of his forthcoming book “Elon Musk” mischaracterized events that surrounded SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s donation of Starlink’s satellite communications to the Ukrainian military.

The Washington Post published an excerpt from the book that claimed that Musk personally shut down Ukraine’s Starlink from working in order to stop a major attack that the country was planning against the Russian Navy.

Mediaite highlighted an excerpt from The Washington Post’s original article, which has now been corrected:

Throughout the evening and into the night, he personally took charge of the situation. Allowing the use of Starlink for the attack, he concluded, could be a disaster for the world. So he secretly told his engineers to turn off coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast. As a result, when the Ukrainian drone subs got near the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly.

When the Ukrainian military noticed that Starlink was disabled in and around Crimea, Musk got frantic calls and texts asking him to turn the coverage back on. Fedorov, the deputy prime minister who had originally enlisted his help, secretly shared with him the details of how the drone subs were crucial to their fight for freedom. “We made the sea drones ourselves, they can destroy any cruiser or submarine,” he texted using an encrypted app. “I did not share this information with anyone. I just want you — the person who is changing the world through technology — to know this.”

The excerpt spawned intense attacks in the media against Musk over the weekend and a correction was later issued in The Washington Post and by Isaacson on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter that Musk purchased last year.

“After publication of this adaptation, the author learned that his book mischaracterized the attempted attack by Ukrainian drones on the Russian fleet in Crimea,” The Washington Post’s correction said. “Musk had already disabled (‘geofenced’) coverage within 100 km of the Crimean coast before the attack began, and when the Ukrainians discovered this, they asked him to activate the coverage, and he refused. This version reflects that change.”

Isaacson wrote on X: “To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a major war.”

In a subsequent post, Isaacson admitted that he “mistakenly thought the policy to not allow Starlink to be used for an attack on Crimea had been first decided on the night of the Ukrainian attempted sneak attack that night.”

“He now says that the policy had been implemented earlier, but the Ukrainians did not know it, and that night he simply reaffirmed the policy,” he added.

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