SpaceX Comes Clean About Limiting Starlink For Ukranian Troops

In a stunning admission, Elon Musk's SpaceX confessed that the company intervened against Ukrainian forces in the ongoing conflict with Russia. SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell admitted to CNN that SpaceX limited Ukrainian access to the company's Starlink satellite internet, damaging reliable internet access in the war-torn country and shutting down key tools Ukrainian forces have used to resist the Russian invasion. As CNN reports, around the time that SpaceX founder Elon Musk called for a ceasefire and peace deal that would have Ukraine effectively surrender to Russia's territorial demands, the company was actively stifling Ukraine's access to satellite internet.

In her conversation with CNN, Shotwell notably takes the blame for an earlier policy disaster — when documents showed that SpaceX threatened to cut off Starlink service in Ukraine unless the U.S. military took responsibility for its funding — saying, "I was the one that asked the Pentagon to fund, this was not an Elon thing." At the same time, it's unclear which of SpaceX's policies are "Elon things" that may seriously impact the future of his companies, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.

Help in a crisis, for a price

Despite Shotwell's attempt to take the blame for SpaceX's apparent lack of support for Ukraine, responsibility for most of the company's political gestures likely rests with its outspoken founder. Musk has repeatedly shown displeasure toward Ukrainian use of the services his companies provide. In October, just a few days before Musk purchased Twitter, he used the service to propose a peace plan decried by Ukrainian and international observers as highly pro-Russia. Per NPR, the Kremlin praised Musk by name for his plan, while Ukrainian authorities responded with vigorous — even profane — rejection. His feelings apparently hurt by Ukraine's blunt refusal, Musk briefly attempted to outright deny Starlink access to the entire country. Public pressure, however, stopped the move.

Despite Musk's stunts, however, Shotwell's SpaceX continues to be a crucial tool for the Ukrainian people in their struggle with Russia. As matters currently stand, the blocks and restrictions the company had imposed on Ukrainian users have largely been lifted. CNN reports that Ukrainian forces consistently praise the unrestricted access to Starlink as a vital tool giving both military units and Ukrainian civilians better security against Russian attacks.