Elon Musk called out Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin for threatening him in Russian media. Roscomos is Russia’s space agency.
Rogozin sent out a note to Russian media that accused Elon Musk’s SpaceX of providing Starlink terminals that were sent to Ukrainian marines and what Rogozin describes as “militants of the Nazi Azov battalion.”
The message continued, “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment. And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”
Elon Musk responded in Tweets referring to the threat:
Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, may have thought that he went a little too far with his humor:
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the Ukrainian government of having been infiltrated by what he described as “Nazi filth.” Russia recently celebrated the anniversary of the Allies’ defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
Elon Musk promised to provide Starlink terminals and activate Starlink in Ukraine in response to a request from Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov. SpaceX beefed up Starlink’s ability to resist jamming in a software update, earning praise from the U.S. Pentagon.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted Internet services in several Ukrainian regions. Fedorov also requested aid from people with digital talent to join an “IT army.”
Some third parties like the cyberactivist group Anonymous responded to the invasion by attacking Russian media outlets. The outlets went down due to massive DDoS attacks or were edited by hackers to warn Russian viewers that the Russian government was using the media outlets to lie to them. Elon Musk had rejected the idea of censoring the Russian media outlets through Starlink, citing free speech.
Rogozin does have a history of bluster. He recently threatened to pull Roscosmos out of the International Space Station early as a response to new sanctions imposed by the western world and called American spacecraft “broomsticks”. He also taunted the American space program in 2014, saying that perhaps they could use a trampoline to get its astronauts to the space station in a now-deleted tweet.
Musk had this to say as early as 2014:
In May 2020, SpaceX and NASA launched the first crewed flight of the Commercial Crew program, ending the Russian monopoly on crewed spaceflight that had begun when NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011. NASA had relied on Russia’s Soyuz to get astronauts to the International Space Station, paying as much as $95 million per seat. NASA currently pays $55 million per seat on the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Starlink has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to maintain connectivity in a crisis. SpaceX provided terminals for tornado recovery efforts in Kentucky, Internet service interruptions on an island that suffered a volcanic eruption, and wildfire fighting efforts in Washington State.
However, this is the first time that Elon Musk has been threatened over efforts to use Starlink to help in a crisis. Many people may not take Rogozin’s hyperbole very seriously, but Musk had expressed concern over possible security risks like a teenager who posts the location of Musk’s private jet before.
Could Musk die under “mysterious circumstances?” It could really happen to anyone and, in Musk’s case, there may be no shortage of suspects. Elizabeth Warren spouted hate in Facebook ads in an attempt to raise campaign contributions. President Joe Biden repeatedly snubbed him. Bernie Sanders has also criticized him. And now Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has gotten in on the act by outright threatening him.