State Secretary Antony Blinken said Sunday he “can’t speak to” Elon Musk turning off Starlink internet access during a Ukrainian attack on Russia last year.
When asked on CNN’s “State of The Union,” about the reports, Blinken said, “I can’t speak to a specific episode.”
“Here’s what I can tell you – Starlink has been a vital tool for Ukrainians to be able to communicate with each other and particularly for the military to communicate in their efforts to defend all of Ukraine’s territory. It remains so and I would expect it to continue to be critical to their efforts,” Blinken said.
Blinken’s comments come days after Musk acknowledged he blocked off internet access from his Starlink satellites during a Ukrainian raid last year on a Russian naval fleet. Musk claimed he did so to prevent SpaceX from being “complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”
Musk was responding to details from an upcoming book that indicated he ordered engineers to shut off the communications network prior to the attack.
An excerpt about the raid from American author and journalist Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography on Musk, titled “Elon Musk,” was published by CNN. According to CNN, the tech billionaire said he was concerned Russia would respond to the naval attack with a nuclear weapon.
Starlink has been a service for Ukrainian troops in the country’s fight against Russia and was provided to Kyiv in early 2022 after Russia disrupted Ukraine’s communications systems.
When asked if Musk apparently conducting his own diplomatic outreach to the Russian government concerns him, Blinken said, “I can’t speak to conversations that may or may have not happened, I don’t know.”
“We ourselves, I’ve always had to factor in what Russia may do in response to any given thing that we or others do or the Ukrainians do,” Blinken continued. “And we have, but what’s so critical now is that Ukraine has had real success over the past year.”
Blinken visited Ukraine last week, where he said he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about long-term security arrangements and announced an additional $1 billion in aid for the embattled country.
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