US Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling for an investigation into SpaceX after allegations that Elon Musk was responsible for preventing Ukraine from using the Starlink satellite network for a planned attack on the Russian naval fleet.
SpaceX has been supplying Ukraine with Starlink terminals since the beginning of the war in 2022 to provide an internet connection for the country’s civilians and military.
However, a new biography of the SpaceX CEO, which officially went on sale on September 12, 2023, claims that Musk secretly ordered the shutdown of the Starlink network to disrupt a Ukrainian uncrewed surface vessel (USV) attack on the Russian naval fleet in Sevastopol, near the coast of Crimea, in 2022.
Musk was quick to deny the claims. However, the outage was confirmed by Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate who, while speaking at the annual Yalta European Strategy meeting on September 9, 2023, said Starlink coverage “did not work for some time” in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Budanov added that the system continues “to play a significant role” in the battlefield.
Following this, Warren, a member of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, requested that the Pentagon review its contractual relationship with Musk’s company.
“Right now, no one is supposed to make foreign policy for the United States other than the United States government. It is not up to one billionaire to go off in secret and change our foreign policy,” Warren told CNN. “I think we need an investigation, both from the Department of Defense and from Congress to look into the arrangement with Elon Musk.”
Musk is expected to participate in a closed-door summit of tech executives with senators at the Capitol on September 13, 2023.
While the US is pushing for an investigation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Musk without referring to the Starlink controversy.
“As far as private business and Elon Musk is concerned… he is undoubtedly an outstanding person. This must be recognized, and I think it is recognized all over the world,” Putin said during Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum on September 12, 2023.
“He [Musk] is an active and talented businessman and he is succeeding a lot, including with the support of the American state,” he added.