Last year, it was reported that Elon Musk shut off access to SpaceX’s Starlink in Crimea, but a correction has since been issued stating that Musk was actually asked to turn on access but had a policy against doing so. Now, the Senate Committee on Armed Services is interested in investigating Musk’s actions regarding Starlink during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and they want to understand the extent of his control over how the network is used.
The committee has requested a detailed account by October 31 of where SpaceX shut off access to Starlink in Ukraine as the country’s army prepared for a Russian counterattack. This report will also outline the responsibilities given to contractors by the Department of Defense and explore whether laws like the Defense Production Act required Musk to continue providing service in Eastern Europe.
The government’s interest in this matter comes after the release of Elon Musk’s biography, which revealed the incident in Crimea. According to the biography, Musk shut down access to Starlink to prevent a potential attack on a Russian fleet by Ukrainian forces using submarine drones. Musk made this decision after consulting with Russian officials who warned about the possibility of nuclear retaliation.
However, the author of the biography has since clarified that Musk’s decision to shut off access was not a last-minute one, as originally described. Musk claimed that he was asked to turn on access but already had a policy in place against doing so. The author admitted that he misunderstood Musk’s stance on the matter and mistakenly portrayed the decision as impulsive.
The Senate Committee on Armed Services, with a Democrat majority, will conduct the investigation into Elon Musk’s actions surrounding Starlink. Members include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).