Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk delved into geopolitics on Oct. 3, presenting a four-part proposal on Twitter to facilitate peace in the Ukraine–Russia military conflict and polled his followers on the social media platform for their thoughts.
The first step in Musk’s concept is to “redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision.” If the public then votes against a Russian takeover of the four regions, then Moscow “leaves if that is will of the people.”
The second part is to reaffirm Crimea as a formal part of Russia, “as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).”
The final two aspects are assuring the water supply in Crimea and having Ukraine remain neutral, dropping a bid to join NATO that was submitted after Russia annexed four regions of Ukraine.
“This is highly likely to be the outcome in the end – just a question of how many die before then,” he tweeted. “Also worth noting that a possible, albeit unlikely, outcome from this conflict is nuclear war.”
The poll received 61.5 percent “No” votes, compared to 38.5 percent “Yes” votes.
He later established a second yes or no Twitter poll, asking if the will of Crimea and Donbas residents “should decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine.” More than half (57.2 percent) voted “Yes,” while 42.8 percent voted “No.”
When a user noted that he is “enraging many Ukrainians” by suggesting “the biggest bot attack” to alter the polling results, Musk replied that he doesn’t care to be popular.
“I do care that millions of people may die needlessly for an essentially identical outcome,” he wrote.
“Russia is doing partial mobilization. They go to full war mobilization if Crimea is at risk. Death on both sides will be devastating. Russia has>3 times population of Ukraine, so victory for Ukraine is unlikely in total war. If you care about the people of Ukraine, seek peace.”
Pushback on Twitter
Musk’s Twitter commentary caught the attention of the Ukrainian government and several high-profile individuals.
Mikhail Podolyan, an adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy, questioned if Musk was attempting to “legitimize pseudo-referendums” that occurred at “gunpoint under conditions of persecution, mass executions, and torture.”
The billionaire CEO rejected the premise of his question, suggesting instead “voting under UN (or pick your most trusted entity or country) supervision.”
Zelenskyy also took the time to pose a Twitter question, sarcastically asking the public “which Elon Musk do you like more?”: “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.” Seventy-nine percent of the more than 2.43 million respondents said they favor the former.
Musk defended his position in a direct response to Zelenskyy.
“I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world,” he tweeted.
Garry Kasparov, a world chess champion and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, accused Musk of trying to “reward years of Putin’s war crimes with Ukrainian blood and land.”
Musk took exception to that comment, highlighting his assistance to Kyiv.
“We gave Starlinks to Ukraine & lost $80M+ in doing so, while putting SpaceX & myself at serious risk of Russian cyberattack,” Musk said.
“What have you done besides tweet?” he added.
Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, lashed out against Musk: “[Expletive] off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk.
“The only outcome ist [sic] that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your [expletive] tesla crap. So good luck to you .@elonmusk,” he added.
But not everyone was lambasting Musk for his comments on the Ukraine–Russia conflict.
Venture capitalist David Sacks was surprised that Musk was being attacked as being pro-Russian for “merely suggesting a possible peace deal” and giving Starlink to Ukraine.
“Shows how warped and intolerant the public conversation has become,” Sacks noted.
In a reply to Sacks, Musk repeated what his companies have done for Ukraine.
“SpaceX’s out of pocket cost to enable & support Starlink in Ukraine is ~$80M so far. Our support for Russia is $0. Obviously, we are pro Ukraine,” Musk tweeted. “Trying to retake Crimea will cause massive death, probably fail & risk nuclear war. This would be terrible for Ukraine & Earth.”
Russia’s Annexation of Ukraine
In recent developments in the military conflict, the Russian Parliament has ratified treaties that will formally bring four regions— Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia—under Kremlin control.
Western leaders have dismissed the annexation vote as a “sham,” while Ukraine forces are regaining other areas in the country, including the town of Lyman.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has submitted an emergency application to NATO, with Zelenskyy stating that he’s prepared to negotiate “with a different Russian president.”
“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” he said in a video posted to Telegram. “Ukraine is ready for negotiations, but with a different Russian president.”
Andrew Moran has been writing about business, economics, and finance for more than a decade. He is the author of “The War on Cash.”