Elon Musk called himself a ‘free speech absolutist’ in defending why he would not block Russian state media from Starlink internet satellites in Ukraine, claiming ‘all news sources are partially propaganda.’
Musk, 50, sent a collection of antennas to Ukraine this week after their president voiced concern that Ukrainians could lose internet access if Russia continues to attack communications towers, as it did with the bombing of a Kyiv TV tower on Wednesday.
However, the tech mogul said he would not block Russia state media – like Russia Today, which laid off all its US staff on Friday – because he’s not ‘sorry to be a free speech absolutist.’
‘Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint,’ he tweeted on Saturday.
When a commenter questioned Musk’s position and referred to Russian media as ‘propaganda resources,’ the Tesla founder was undeterred, replying: ‘All news sources are partially propaganda, some more than others.’
Musk, 50, sent a collection of antennas to Ukraine this week after the prime minister voiced concern that Ukrainians could lose internet access. He also claimed that in some parts of Ukraine, Starlink is the only ‘non-Russian’ connection available
Elon Musk called himself a free speech absolutist’ on Saturday after stating he would not block Russian state media from Starlink internet satellites in Ukraine because ‘all news sources are partially propaganda’
Musk issued an ‘important warning’ on Thursday, stating that in ‘some parts of Ukraine’ Starlink satellites were only ‘non-Russian communications system still working’ and could be targeted for attacks.
‘Please use with caution,’ he tweeted.
He also stated that SpaceX would ‘reprioritize’ signal jamming and up cyber defense and told Ukrainians to ‘hold strong’ and have his ‘sympathies to the great people of Russia, who do not want this.’
Despite Putin’s attempts to disconnect Ukrainians from the internet, Russia has threatened its own independent journalists with jail time if they report ‘fake’ news about the war.
A man ran from a burning home on Friday uin Irpin, right outside of Kyiv as Russian forces continue toward the capital
Ukrainians looks terrified as man with a gun moves toward them as Russia becomes more aggressive. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has escalated his rhetoric in his confrontation with the West, saying that sanctions against Russia are tantamount to a declaration of war and threatening to treat any country that declares a no-fly zone over Ukraine as part of the conflict
Ukrainian soldiers with shoulder-fired missiles look on people evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday
In the US, stated-back media outlet Russia Today laid off all of its staff, effectively shutting down amid backlash over the war in Ukraine.
‘Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations,’ General Manager Misha Solodovnikov wrote. ‘We deeply regret and understand the uncertainty this action will cause our valued employees.’
RT America has been sidelined in the US and most of Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The network, seen as one of Putin’s main mouthpieces in the US, had referred to the unprovoked invasion as a ‘minor incursion intended for defensive purposes.’
Their stance quickly drew backlash and some of RT’s own staff publicly resigned, and multiple television providers, streaming tech service Roku and social media outlets severed ties with the network.
Satellite TV company DirecTV recently announced it would be pulling the plug on the channel on March 1, ahead of a contract that was going to expire later this year.
‘In line with our previous agreement with RT America, we are accelerating this year’s contract expiration timeline and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,’ a spokesperson said.
Dish, which also carries the network, did not comment on its relationship with the Kremlin-backed channel. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT has sister stations across the globe, including United Kingdom and France, which have also been recently booted off-air.
YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook parent company Meta have also banned RT content on their platforms in Europe, with Meta executive Nick Clegg hinting that a decision was made in relation to ‘the exceptional nature of the current situation’ in Ukraine.
RT’s app will no longer be available on Microsoft and Apple app stores in all countries except for Russia.
Earlier this week, Must told Ukrainians to ‘hold strong’ and sympathized with Russians ‘who do not want this.’ He also issued a stark warning that Starlink satellites could become a target
Spotify and Roku have also removed RT-linked podcasts from its platform.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has escalated his rhetoric in his confrontation with the West, saying that sanctions against Russia are tantamount to a declaration of war and threatening to treat any country that declares a no-fly zone over Ukraine as part of the conflict.
The threats came as Moscow’s brutal assault on Ukraine saw a mass civilian evacuation from the city of Mariupol derailed when Russian forces ignored a promised humanitarian ceasefire and continued shelling the southern city.
Russian troops continued to bombard encircled cities and the number of Ukrainians forced from their country grew to 1.4 million. The UN says more than 350 civilians have been killed since Russia’s invasion last week.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his plea for NATO to establish a no-fly zone in a meeting with the US Congress — but the idea faces strong bipartisan opposition in America, and NATO leaders have rejected it, pointing out that it would draw the alliance into direct military confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia.
A no-fly zone could only be enforced by shooting down Russian aircraft, and Putin on Saturday made clear that he would view such a move as joining the conflict.
‘We’ll instantly view them as participants in a military conflict,’ the Russian leader told a group of female employees of Russian airlines, according to Russian state media. ‘We’ll view any movement in this direction as involvement in an armed conflict by the country from whose territory threats to our military service members are posed.’
At the same meeting, Putin issued bellicose threats in response to the punishing economic sanctions leveled against his country by the US and Europe.
‘These sanctions that are being imposed are like the declaration of war,’ said Putin. ‘A lot of what is happening now, of what we now see and what we face is undoubtedly a means of fighting against Russia.’
Despite Putin’s saber-rattling, bipartisan members of Congress expressed support for ratcheting up sanctions and increasing lethal military aid to Ukraine after speaking with Zelensky on Saturday morning.
In his Zoom meeting with Congress, Zelensky repeated his plea for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country to blunt Russian air superiority, according to sources familiar with the matter.
However, the Biden administration and lawmakers from both parties have expressed strong opposition to the idea of a no-fly zone, because enforcing it would require shooting down Russian planes, drawing NATO into direct conflict with Russia.
Ukraine war: latest
- Vladimir Putin says Western sanctions on Russia are almost a declaration of war and that anyone imposing a no-fly zone on Ukraine would be considered to have entered the conflict;
- Russia announces a ceasefire to allow civilian evacuation of Mariupol and Volnovakha;
- Officials in Mariupol accuse the Russians of violating the ceasefire by continuing to shell the city;
- Russian forces inch closer to the capital Kyiv from the north but encounter stiff resistance along the way;
- On Thursday, 47 people were killed in a Russian airstrike on a residential neighborhood in Chernihiv;
- A fire at Europe’s biggest nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia is put out, with Ukraine accusing Russia of ‘nuclear terror’ in shelling the plant;
- Putin in a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Moscow is ready for dialogue over Ukraine if all its demands are met;
- Putin signs a law imposing harsh jail sentences for the publication of ‘fake news’ about the invasion;
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns that the war in Ukraine ‘may not be over soon’ and that the US and European allies must sustain tough pressure on Russia until it ends;
- G7 foreign ministers warn that Russia will face further ‘severe sanctions’ for its invasion, and call on Moscow to stop its attacks near nuclear power plants;
- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance will not impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine after Kyiv calls for one to help stop Russia’s bombing of its cities;
- Russia is more isolated than ever after a historic vote at the UN Human Rights Council for a probe into violations committed during the war on Ukraine, with only Eritrea siding with Moscow;
- More than 1.3million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia invaded last week, the UN says;
- The United Nations’ World Food Programme warns about a looming food crisis in Ukraine in conflict areas, while disruptions in production and exports could lead to food insecurity globally;
- Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot said that it was suspending all of its international flights except to Belarus from March 8.