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US Senators call for an investigation into Elon Musk for blocking Ukraine's access to Starlink

12.09.2023, 16:42
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Senator Elizabeth Warren is demanding an investigation into SpaceX after Elon Musk acknowledged he had blocked Ukraine from extending the private Starlink satellite network for an attack on Russian warships near the Crimean coast, reports Bloomberg.

“The Congress needs to investigate what’s happened here and whether we have adequate tools to make sure foreign policy is conducted by the government and not by one billionaire,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Monday at the Capitol.

Musk, the chief executive officer of SpaceX, is expected to be among the technology industry chiefs to attend a closed-door summit with senators at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Warren, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said she also wants the Defense Department to look into its contractual relationship with the company.

Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, also said he was concerned about the issue, given that governments traditionally have controlled satellites and presidents decided what to do with them.

He said there have been very positive developments with SpaceX reducing the cost of access to space, including for national security launches, “but he can’t be the last word when it comes to national security,” he said of Musk.

As IMI reported, on September 7, 2023, the CNN reported that, according to Musk's biographer Walter Isaacson, Elon Musk had secretly ordered his engineers to deactivate the Starlink satellite network to prevent a Ukrainian attack on the Russian fleet in Crimea. Musk's decision, which prompted Ukrainian officials to request that he reactivates the satellites, was prompted by his concern that Russia would retaliate with a nuclear strike. The concern, which, according to Isaacson, was facilitated by Musk's conversations with high-ranking Russian officials.

Elon Musk himself claimed that he had not deactivated Starlink satellite communication for the drones near the Crimeam coast, but had refused to activate it at Ukraine's request so as to prevent Ukraine's attack on the Russian fleet in Sevastopol.

In October 2022, CNN reported that Elon Musk's company SpaceX had informed the Pentagon that they would refuse to fund Starlink in Ukraine. Musk's company stated in the letter that it "can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as we did before." The letter also contained a request to the Pentagon to take over the funding for Ukraine's governmental and military use of the Starlink system. Musk confirmed this intention.

In early October, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk rejected a Ukrainian request to extend his satellite internet service Starlink to Russian-occupied Crimea. According to him, an effort to retake the peninsula from Russian forces could lead to a nuclear war.

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