SpaceX’s chief executive officer Elon Musk told Pentagon officials that he had spoken personally to Russian president Vladimir Putin about the satellite-based internet SpaceX supplies to Ukraine’s military, the New Yorker reported. Elon Musk told Colin Kahl, then the Pentagon’s top policy official, during an October conversation about Ukrainian forces losing connection to Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s Starlink service as they entered territory contested by Russia, the report claimed.
“My inference was that he was getting nervous that Starlink’s involvement was increasingly seen in Russia as enabling the Ukrainian war effort, and was looking for a way to placate Russian concerns,” Colin Kahl told the New Yorker.
Colin Kahl returned to a position at Stanford University last month.
In October, Elon Musk denied that he had spoken to Vladimir Putin. In a post on Twitter, the social media platform since renamed X, the billionaire wrote that he’d spoken to the Russian president only once, roughly 18 months earlier, about space.
The report revives the controversy that erupted after Elon Musk posted so-called Russia-Ukraine peace plans that the Kremlin praised and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticized. After this, Ukrainian troops reported Starlink outages and Elon Musk threatened to stop funding Ukraine’s access to the service.