Author of biography about Musk admits error in information about war in Ukraine – 09/12/2023 – Tech

Author of biography about Musk admits error in information about war in Ukraine – 09/12/2023 – Tech

Writer Walter Isaacson acknowledged last week that he was wrong to publish information about a measure adopted by Elon Musk that prevented the communication of drones launched by Ukraine and thwarted attacks against Russian troops.

Last week, the television channel CNN released an excerpt from Musk’s biography written by Isaacson, released this Tuesday (12), which states that the owner of X (formerly Twitter) intentionally turned off the Starlink communication system, used by Ukrainian troops, at a time when the country’s submarine drones were attacking Russian fleets in the Crimea region.

The communication cut caused the drones to lose communication in Sevastopol. “As a result, when explosive-laden Ukrainian submarine drones approached the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly,” Isaacson said in the biography.

According to the book, Musk made the decision secretly and “asked engineers to turn off Starlink communication 100 kilometers off the coast of Crimea.” The decision was motivated by an acute fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack with nuclear weapons.

CNN said that, according to the biography, this was based on Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials and his fears that a “mini-Pearl Harbor” would happen.

After the excerpt was released, Musk clarified that he rejected, before the day of the attack, a request made by Ukraine to activate Starlink, as he feared being complicit in a “major act of war”.

“The obvious intention was to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor,” Musk posted last Thursday (7) on his profile on X (formerly Twitter). “If I had agreed to their request, SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and escalation of conflict,” he explained.

Musk said he had no choice but to reject an emergency request from Ukraine “to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol.” He did not provide the date of the request and the biography excerpt did not specify it.

After Musk’s response, Isaacson posted online that “the Ukrainians thought that Starlink coverage would allow them to reach Crimea, which was not possible. They asked Musk to allow communication, but Musk did not accept.”

Asked by reporter Tim Fernholz about the difference in the excerpt that was released by CNN, the writer admitted that he misinterpreted the information given by Musk.

“Based on conversations with Musk, I mistakenly thought that not allowing the use of Starlink for an attack on Crimea had first been decided on the night of the attempted attack on Ukraine. He (Musk) now says the policy had been implemented before , but that the Ukrainians didn’t know and that that night (of the attack), he simply reaffirmed the measure”, explained Isaacson.

The admission of the error caused the writer to be challenged by CNN, which stated that the biography about Musk already causes “embarrassment” for the publisher Simon & Schuster, which published the book. The publisher informed the broadcaster that “future editions of the book will be updated” to no longer include the error.

With information from Reuters

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