Thursday, December 1, 2022

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MP proposes sanctioning Elon Musk over Ukraine

One MP appeared to suggest the government consider sanctioning Elon Musk, saying the billionaire appeared to be playing a “double game” on Ukraine.

Referring to recent comments by Mr Musk on Twitter, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said there were also questions about reported “outages” of the billionaire’s Starlink system in Ukraine.

Mr Bryant has been vocal in calling for sanctions on a number of people since Russia invaded Ukraine, including former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who was subsequently sanctioned by Britain.

When MPs in the House of Commons put questions to a defense secretary about the situation in Ukraine, Mr Bryant said: “Can I ask him about Elon Musk?

“Because he seems to be playing a double game at the moment and his tweet earlier this week was deeply unhelpful in my opinion.

“There are also questions as to why there have been outages in the Starlink system, which may have caused… greater difficulties for Ukraine.

“Is there a moment when we might need to consider sanctioning Elon Musk?”

Defense Secretary Alec Shelbrooke, surprised by the question, replied: “Sanctions are reviewed at all times and everything is considered in the round.

“I think we always have to make sure we’re aware of all the facts and not just reacting to social media and then those things can be looked at and whether sanctions would be appropriate or not.”

Starlink is a satellite-based internet system developed by Mr. Musk’s SpaceX.

According to an article in the Financial Times, front-line Ukrainian troops have recently reported failures in their Starlink communications equipment.

Some of the equipment used in Ukraine was donated by SpaceX, while others were reportedly purchased by the US government and others and shipped to Ukraine.

The FT quoted a Ukrainian government official who reportedly said outages over the past few weeks had resulted in a “catastrophic” loss of communications.

According to the report, Mr Musk and SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment, but Mr Musk subsequently said on Twitter: “What is happening on the battlefield is classified.”

Mr Musk, the CEO of Tesla, argued in a tweet last week that Russia should be allowed to keep the Crimea peninsula it captured in 2014 in order to achieve peace.

He also said Ukraine should adopt neutral status and drop an offer to join NATO after Russia partially mobilized reservists.

Mr Musk has also crossed red lines for Ukraine and its supporters by proposing that four regions Russia wants to annex after what the West has denounced as bogus Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” should hold repeated UN-organized votes.

Mr Musk also launched a Twitter poll asking whether “the will of the people” should decide whether occupied regions remain part of Ukraine or become part of Russia.

In a sarcastic response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted his own Twitter poll asking, “Which Elon Musk do you like more?” – “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”

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