Elon Musk took a break from his day job as leader of carmaker Tesla and space cargo company SpaceX to post a “peace” plan. to end the war in Ukraine. But his proposal was quickly met with backlash, including from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
On Monday, Musk posted a poll on Twitter with four suggestions for ending the war. The first: Enlist the United Nations to oversee a new reform of Russia’s recent mock elections of four regions of Ukraine that it formally annexed last week. He then called for Crimea, invaded by Russia in 2014 and currently occupied by it, to formally become part of Russia. He then said that Crimea’s water supply should be guaranteed. And finally, he argued, Ukraine should remain neutral rather than join NATO.
“That’s very likely to be the outcome in the end, just a matter of how many die first,” Musk said. he wrote, as a follow-up. “It is also worth noting that one possible, albeit unlikely, outcome of this conflict is nuclear war.”
Less than three hours after his first tweet, Zelensky answered at Musk with his own survey, mocking Musk’s plan.
“Which @elonmusk do you like best?” Zelensky asked. Both options? One that supports Ukraine and one that supports Russia.
Musk later answered to Zelensky, saying, “I still strongly support Ukraine, but I am convinced that massive escalation of war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”
The Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, also piled on Musk in an atypical way for a diplomat. “Shit is my very diplomatic answer to you,” he wrote. Melnyk later added that no Ukrainian would ever buy a Tesla, telling Musk “good luck.”
Musk, however, persisted.
“Let’s try it then: the will of the people living in Donbas and Crimea should decide whether they are part of Russia or Ukraine,” he said. he wrote— asking his Twitter followers to answer “yes” or “no.”
Financial Times correspondent Christopher Miller answered in Musk’s tweet, referring to the Ukrainian Independence Referendum, when Ukrainians were asked to vote for the country’s independence.
“Let’s not try @elonmusk,” he wrote. “The people of Donbas and Crimea made their decision in 1991, when Ukrainians in these areas and everyone else voted freely and unanimously to be in Ukraine.”
Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine, is now almost entirely occupied by Russia. But Ukraine has promised to release him.
In suggesting that Crimea, a peninsula that has been at the center of Russia-Ukraine conflicts, should formally become part of Russia, Musk made clear his belief that the region belongs to Russia, adding that Crimea is being transferred to Ukraine from Russia by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. it was a “mistake”.
A great adviser to Zelensky responded sarcastically to Musk’s Twitter diplomacy saying there was a “better peace plan” — including Ukraine liberating its territories, Russia demilitarizing and denuclearizing so it can no longer threaten others, and war criminals being brought to justice.
It’s not just Ukrainian officials who have rejected Musk. Many of his Twitter followers chimed in in the comments, calling him a “disappointment” and asking him to refrain from addressing a topic so outside of his expertise.
Despite the often hostile response, Musk gave his peace plan a further push on Twitter.
“Russia is doing a partial mobilization. They go to all-out war mobilization if Crimea is at risk. Death on both sides will be devastating.” said the tweet. “Russia has more than 3x the population of Ukraine, so Ukrainian victory is unlikely in an all-out war. If you care about the people of Ukraine, seek peace.”
Musk’s Starlink, which provides satellite Internet access, has played a critical role in the war by offering its service for free in Ukraine. Operated by SpaceX, it has helped Ukraine combat disinformation from Russia and helped Ukrainians and the Ukrainian military communicate, while connecting the country to the outside world.
“SpaceX’s out-of-pocket cost to enable and support Starlink in Ukraine is approximately $80 million to date,” he said. said. “Our support for Russia is $0. We are obviously in favor of Ukraine.”
Update, October 3, 2022: This article has been updated to include Elon Musk’s recent Twitter responses.
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