According to a media report, tech billionaire Elon Musk informed the US Department of Defense last year about a personal conversation with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. The New Yorker magazine referred to former senior Pentagon official Colin Kahl and another unnamed government official in its article Monday.
The exchange with the Pentagon was actually about the use of the Starlink Internet satellite system operated by Musk’s space company SpaceX by the Ukrainian armed forces. At the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the tech entrepreneur donated Starlink receivers to the country and let them use them free of charge. Later, however, SpaceX did not seem to want to continue paying for the operation of the terminals. Musk told Pentagon officials about his conversation with Putin, the New Yorker wrote.
Talks with Putin initially denied
Such a conversation between Musk and the Kremlin chief had already been reported in the fall. The tech entrepreneur had publicly rejected this at the time. “I only spoke to Putin once and that was 18 months ago,” he wrote in a tweet. It was about space travel.
In the end, SpaceX agreed to let Ukraine continue to use the Starlink terminals for the time being. That year, the US Department of Defense signed a contract with the company.
Another interesting thing about a conversation with Putin would be that Musk had published ideas for a solution to the conflict at the time. Among other things, he had proposed Ukraine’s renunciation of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia had annexed in violation of international law, to end the war, as well as referendums in Russian-occupied areas. In the face of Russian aggression, the ideas drew much criticism.