How Elon Musk became a key geopolitical figure - Axios
Elon Musk's rise to geopolitics has been accompanied by a lot of hate, but even the US government cannot deny the billionaire's importance in terms of military and national security.
Elon Musk has been a fan favorite in Ukraine over the past few months, as he granted - though at the expense of the Biden administration - Kiev access to his international satellite-internet service, Starlink, and largely expressed his pro-Ukraine position online.
The billionaire has been largely active online in terms of making plans for peace in Ukraine and proposing how the situation in the region should be resolved, in addition to suggesting solutions for the Taiwan issue, which got him quite a lot of hate.
However, the man of the hour has one tool on his hand that gives him a solid amount of significance; his Starlink company, which offers internet satellite services all over the globe.
Space companies are largely important in this day and age due to surpassing governments in terms of their abilities to grant technological and geopolitical powers they offer to those wielding their services.
The capitalization of space has offered these companies an ecosystem they can exist in with resources focused solely on developing their abilities, unlike states, which have to diversify where their taxpayer money goes.
The US did not make the decision that Musk activates Starlink in Ukraine, he decided the matter by himself after Kiev called him on to do so.
SpaceX was "trying to strong-arm the US government into paying for this service that they chose to send there in the first place," Kaitlyn Johnson, a space policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Axios.
Now, the Pentagon is mulling paying Musk for the service that could give Washington a lot of advantages in the international arena.
Despite the hate he is receiving, and despite garnering praise from its foes, such as Russia, Washington realizes Musk's importance. The Kremlin described Musk's initiatives as positive, but Ukrainian officials, diplomats, and even the country's president bashed the billionaire.
Musk's so-called peace plan said elections should be held under the supervision of the United Nations in the territories recently added to Russia to see whether they wanted to remain part of Russia or not; Crimea is recognized as Russian; Ukraine assures the water supply to Crimea; Ukraine remains a neutral party.
He also underlined that this would be the outcome of the war regardless, therefore, it was "just a question of how many die before then."
There are now 20,000 terminals in Ukraine that Starlink sends high-speed internet to from very low orbit. The high-speed internet has been very beneficial for Ukraine, with Musk coming together with the US government to give Kiev access to the service for free - the US paid for the majority of the terminals and Musk waived the usual monthly fees.
Starlink "changed the course of the war to Ukraine’s advantage," said Mykhailo Fedorov, a deputy prime minister.
It is of such importance that Ukraine's train system depends on it, and so does the government, as it uses it to transmit communications, including Zelensky's broadcasts.
This comes at a time that space companies are growing in terms of importance, increasingly providing clients with satellite remote sensing and high-bandwidth communication via satellite.
Musk also helped the United States in Iran, activating his constellation of internet satellites in the country in light of the mass riots taking place there.
"Activating Starlink", Musk said on Twitter, replying to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's announcement that Washington "took action today to advance Internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people."
Commercial satellites are not only important in terms of faster internet speed and a possibly more secure connection away from government surveillance. They are taking on a national security and military importance, which is shifting the playing field in space.