Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for an investigation into SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after it was revealed he declined to activate his satellite internet service Starlink for a Ukrainian attack on the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
The incident took place in September 2022 and was revealed by excerpts from a new biography of Musk. According to Musk, Ukraine made an emergency request to activate Starlink near Sevastopol, Crimea, and the clear implication was that it was for an attack on Russian warships. He denied the request over fears of escalating the war.
“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,” Warren said on Monday.
Ukrainian officials have slammed Musk for disrupting a planned attack on Russia’s fleet. Musk said Starlink was never meant to be used for war, although his company began shipping thousands of terminals to Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded in February 2022.
At the time of the incident, SpaceX was providing the Starlink service to Ukraine on its own and was not under a contract with the US military. But since then, the Pentagon began footing the bill for Ukraine’s Starlink service and entered a contract with SpaceX, the details of which have not been disclosed.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Monday that the September 2022 incident raised concerns within the Pentagon about the need to be more specific when it comes to contracting services from companies like SpaceX. “If we’re going to rely upon commercial architectures or commercial systems for operational use, then we have to have some assurances that they’re going to be available,” he said.