Starlink shutdown in Crimea: US Senate demands investigation into Musk's actions
The US Senate demands an investigation into American billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX company after he admitted that he blocked Ukraine's Starlink satellite Internet in the temporarily occupied Crimea
"Congress needs to investigate what’s happened here and whether we have adequate tools to make sure that foreign policy is conducted by the government, not by one billionaire," said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who represents Massachusetts.
As Warren is also a representative of the Armed Services Committee, she insists that the US Department of Defense review its contractual relationship with Musk's SpaceX company.
Jack Reed, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also expressed concern about this issue, as satellites have traditionally been under government control, and presidents have decided what to do with them. According to him, despite the cheaper access to space, including for launches in the interests of national security, thanks to SpaceX, Elon Musk "cannot be the last word when it comes to national security."
Elon Musk is expected to participate in a closed-door summit of tech executives with senators at the Capitol on Wednesday, September 13.
What preceded it
Writer Walter Isaacson wrote about the Starlink shutdown in his biography of Elon Musk. According to him, the businessman was afraid that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would use the technology to strike at the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Musk, in turn, said that he did not disconnect Starlink in Crimea, but rejected Ukraine's request to reconnect it.
"SpaceX did not deactivate anything. There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol. 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," the businessman explained.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office, called Musk's actions a mixture of ignorance and a big ego, which resulted in numerous human casualties.
Later, Musk said that he did not consider himself a traitor for shutting down Starlink satellite internet in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
"I am a citizen of the United States and have only that passport. No matter what happens, I will fight for and die in America. The United States Congress did not declare war on Russia. If anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such," the billionaire said.
It is worth noting that this is not the first scandal involving Musk. Last year, his SpaceX company informed the Pentagon that it refused to finance Starlink satellite communications services in Ukraine. Eventually, the US took over the costs.