Warren calls for investigation into Musk’s reported influence on foreign policy

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said tech entrepreneur Elon Musk should be investigated for his personal influence on how Starlink satellite internet can be used in Ukraine.

Musk confirmed last week that he prevented the Ukrainian military from using Starlink internet during an attack on Russian forces last year, raising questions about his personal influence on foreign policy and events.

“We need to investigate how this happened. What’s in those contracts that permits him to have this kind of power?” Warren told reporters after Musk participated in a congressional forum on artificial intelligence on Wednesday.

She also called on the Department of Defense to scrutinize its contracts with Musk’s companies, most notably contracts with SpaceX to purchase its own Starlink satellites.

“It is also the responsibility of the Department of Defense to go back and take a look at those contracts,” she said. “That kind of activity poses a danger to the United States, to Ukraine and to the rest of the world.”

A biography about Musk released Tuesday noted that the Ukrainian military was denied the ability to use Starlink internet satellites for a drone mission targeting the Russian Navy fleet based in Sevastopol, Crimea last year.

The book says that lost internet connection meant the drones “washed ashore harmlessly.”

Musk said his decision to limit Starlink access was because he did not want to be responsible for a potential escalation of the war. The move has brought widespread criticism, including from senior Ukrainian government officials, but also came with recent praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Musk has long pushed for peace in the conflict, even pitching a peace plan last year that was friendly to the Russian side. He reportedly spoke directly with Putin before releasing the proposal.

The Biden administration has generally avoided commenting on Musk. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he “can’t speak” on the issue in an interview Sunday.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall also declined to criticize Musk but noted that more oversight of contracts may be warranted.

“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,” Kendall said Monday. “We have to have that. Otherwise, they are a convenience … in peacetime, but they’re not something we can rely upon in wartime.”

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