Elon Musk at the 2022 Met gala.
Getty Images/The Met Museum/Vogue
Elon Musk’s foray into geopolitics this week quickly became an international social-media incident when, predictably, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany was publicly underwhelmed by the Tesla
and SpaceX CEO’s notion that Ukraine should declare neutrality, cede any claim to the Crimean Peninsula (annexed unlawfully by Russia in 2014) and assent to a legitimizing rerun of the recent Kremlin-organized referendums in four Ukrainian oblasts that Vladimir Putin claimed gave him the right to annex those regions.
The ambassador’s curtly tweeted reply:
“‘Fuck off is my diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk.’”
The president of Ukraine neighbor Lithuania next weighed in, choosing metaphorical over censorious language:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky queried his 6.7 million Twitter
followers over Musk’s putative support for Russia (when Musk’s SpaceX had previously, in coordination with the Biden administration, been a vendor of critical telecommunications infrastructure to Ukraine at, Musk claimed, a loss to SpaceX).
Those who joined Zelensky in the belief that what Musk was proposing was a pro-Russian outcome to the nearly 8-month-old invasion of Ukraine found evidence in a newly revealed text message Musk had sent to an acquaintance suggesting that Kremlin organ RT was among his news sources. That text was revealed as part of the discovery process in the Twitter suit to force Musk to abide by the terms of his agreed deal to acquire the company.
Musk’s about-face on that acquisition sidelined at least in the near term the risk of any further such revelations.
RT, for its part, published a mirthful claim that Musk had destroyed the argument of legendary chess champion and longtime Russian dissident Garry Kasparov — that Musk’s purported peace plan represented not only “moral idiocy” but Kremlin-propaganda spreading — by asking what Kasparov had himself done to promote peace in Ukraine, beyond tweeting.
From the archives (November 2021): Opinion: Hey, Elon Musk, beating world hunger is far harder than traveling to space