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US launches investigation against SpaceX over use of Starlink by Russian military

US launches investigation against SpaceX over use of Starlink by Russian military Businessman Elon Musk (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The House Democrats in the United States have initiated an investigation into Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, to determine whether the company took appropriate measures to prevent the use of its satellite internet service, Starlink, by Russia in its war against Ukraine, according to The Washington Post.

Representatives Jamie Raskin and Robert Garcia sent a letter demanding that the company report any complaints regarding potential illegal acquisitions of Starlink terminals, particularly in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. Lawmakers expressed concern over claims by Ukrainian intelligence that Russian forces had deployed the company's terminals in eastern Ukraine, potentially violating U.S. sanctions.

Lawmakers cautioned SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell that the anticipated use of Starlink by Russia "poses a serious threat to Ukraine’s security, Ukrainian lives, and US national security."

"We are concerned that you may not have appropriate guardrails and policies in place," wrote Raskin and Garcia.

The investigation underscores the critical importance of the Starlink service for Ukraine's military operations, providing a backbone for digital communication on the battlefield since Russia's invasion of the country two years ago.

SpaceX swiftly supplied Starlink terminals to Ukraine at the request of Ukrainian officials within hours of Russia's attack. The Defense Ministry purchased between 400 to 500 new terminals for Ukraine in June 2023, according to the letter.

However, there have long been concerns about the broad influence SpaceX and its CEO and founder, Elon Musk, exert on the war.

Lawmakers fear that Starlink could now provide Russia with a similar advantage, following reports in February that Ukrainian intelligence claimed Russian forces were increasingly using Starlink satellite communication systems.

Starlink in occupied Ukrainian territories

Recent media reports have suggested that Russian soldiers in Ukraine are using Starlink terminals.

Subsequently, this information was confirmed by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

In response to such information, SpaceX owner Elon Musk emphasized that no one officially sold terminals to Russia.