Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling for a thorough investigation into SpaceX following Elon Musk’s admission that he prevented Ukraine from using the private Starlink satellite network for a potential strike on Russian warships near the Crimean coast.
Speaking at the Capitol on Monday, the Massachusetts Democrat urged Congress to scrutinize the situation, emphasizing the need to ensure that foreign policy decisions aren’t influenced by private matters.
“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,” Warren said.
Warren, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, also demanded that the Defense Department examine its contractual relationship with SpaceX.
Chairman Jack Reed of the Armed Services Committee, a Democrat from Rhode Island, expressed his concerns as well. He highlighted that traditionally, governments have had control over satellites, with presidents making decisions regarding their usage. Reed acknowledged the positive strides made by SpaceX in reducing the cost of space access, especially for national security launches. However, he stressed that Musk “can’t be the last word when it comes to national security.”
Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, is slated to attend a closed-door summit with technology industry leaders and senators at the Capitol on Wednesday.
He initially disclosed his decision on September 7th via his social media platform, X (fka Twitter). He explained that he had received an emergency request from government authorities to extend Starlink coverage to Sevastopol, with the apparent intention of targeting a significant portion of the Russian fleet at anchor.
“The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor. If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation,” he said.
Musk later expressed his unwavering support for the United States, emphasizing his citizenship and commitment to his country.
“The United States Congress has not declared war on Russia. If anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such,” he also posted on X.
It’s worth noting that at the time of Ukraine’s request for Starlink coverage extension for military purposes, SpaceX had no defense contracts in place. However, the Defense Department has recently begun undisclosed financial support for Starlink’s usage in Ukraine, although specifics on these arrangements remain undisclosed.
Musk’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict began shortly after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. As cyberattacks targeted Ukraine’s digital infrastructure alongside conventional assaults, a coalition of tech-savvy Ukrainian expatriates turned to SpaceX’s Starlink as a potential solution. The network of satellite-connected mobile internet terminals could provide Ukraine with a reliable means of communication that was resistant to complete dismantlement by Russia.
The initiative gained traction through fundraising efforts in Silicon Valley’s Ukrainian community, contracts with international organizations, and contributions from SpaceX. Thousands of Starlink units were transferred to Ukraine, becoming a crucial communication backbone for soldiers on the battlefield. However, as the war continued, SpaceX began to express reservations about the escalating costs and the ethical implications of providing technology for warfare.
Amid these tensions, Musk’s sympathies appeared to shift. He expressed support for a peace plan that proposed redrawing Ukraine’s borders and granting Russia control over Crimea. Musk’s influence manifested on the ground, with Ukrainian forces facing communication breakdowns at critical moments. Urgent calls for connectivity reached Ukrainian expats who had helped fund the Starlink units, underscoring the technology’s pivotal role.
Information for this story was found via Bloomberg and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.