Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023
US Senate Investigating Elon Musk’s Decision on Starlink Coverage for Ukraine Attack on Russian Warship

The US Senate Armed Services Committee is conducting an investigation into Elon Musk’s decision not to extend Starlink satellite internet coverage that would enable a Ukraine attack on a Russian warship near Crimea, according to Bloomberg. Committee chairman Jack Reed stated that the incident raised serious national security concerns, and they are aggressively examining the issue from all angles. However, the committee is still in the information-gathering stage and has not yet initiated a formal investigation.

The incident in question was disclosed in a biography of Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson. The book claimed that Musk deactivated Starlink access near the Crimean coast to prevent a potential Ukrainian attack on the fleet. Musk, on the other hand, clarified that Starlink was not operational in those areas due to US sanctions on Russia, which meant that SpaceX had nothing to disable. He mentioned in a podcast that if President Biden had given the order, he would have extended Starlink to Crimea, but no such order was received.

Musk further explained that he denied Ukraine’s request to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol because it would make SpaceX complicit in a major act of war. He stated that neither he nor any private citizen should have the final say on matters of US national security. The decision raised questions as to why it was made by Musk rather than government officials.

It is worth noting that at the time of Ukraine’s request, SpaceX was not receiving any US payments for its Ukraine Starlink operations. However, the company now receives funding from the Pentagon. The announcement of the investigation coincided with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s upcoming visit to the US and his meeting with President Biden. In addition to Starlink, SpaceX is a significant contractor for the Defense Department, involved in launching spy satellites.

The US Senate Armed Services Committee’s investigation aims to delve into the circumstances surrounding Elon Musk’s decision regarding Starlink coverage and its potential impact on national security.