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WP: US House Democrats probe SpaceX over Russia’s alleged use of Starlink in Ukraine

US House Democrats have initiated an investigation into Elon Musk’s SpaceX regarding the alleged use of Starlink terminals by Russian troops in Ukraine, citing “a serious threat to Ukraine’s security, Ukrainian lives, and US national security.”
Starlink terminal.
Starlink terminal. Illustrative file photo.
WP: US House Democrats probe SpaceX over Russia’s alleged use of Starlink in Ukraine

US House Democrats have launched an investigation into Elon Musk’s SpaceX, focusing on whether the company has implemented sufficient safeguards to prevent Russia from utilizing its Starlink satellite internet service in the ongoing war against Ukraine, The Washington Post reported.

The investigation was prompted by allegations from Ukrainian intelligence officials that Russian forces have deployed Starlink terminals in the occupied territory of Ukraine, potentially violating US sanctions. The lawmakers highlighted the significance of Starlink service to Ukraine’s military, noting that it has been the backbone of digital communications on the battlefield since Russia’s invasion two years ago.

Representatives Jamie Raskin and Robert Garcia expressed concerns in a letter sent to SpaceX and obtained by WP, demanding information on any complaints regarding the potential illegal acquisition of Starlink terminals, including in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine.

Despite the critical role of Starlink in supporting Ukraine’s military, there are growing concerns that the technology could now be providing a similar advantage to Russia. Ukrainian intelligence officials have reported increasing use of Starlink systems by Russian troops, with allegations of systematic deployment and acquisition through intermediaries in neighboring countries to circumvent sanctions.

The Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has previously reported that Russians purchase Starlink Internet terminals in Arab countries for its military to use in Ukraine, citing the intercepted conversation of allegedly Russian soldiers.

SpaceX has not yet responded to the WP’s request for comment, but Elon Musk has previously stated that reports of the company selling Starlink terminals to Russia are “categorically false.” However, lawmakers remain worried that Russia could deploy the technology outside its borders and have questioned SpaceX’s safeguards and compliance with US sanctions and export controls.

The investigation is in its early stages, with plans to contact the Pentagon and other relevant agencies, WP noted. Lawmakers emphasize the importance of ensuring that Russia is deprived of any trade that empowers its military as it “poses a serious threat to Ukraine’s security, Ukrainian lives, and US national security.”

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