Elon Musk got into a fight with the president of Ukraine online after he asked Twitter users what they thought about his ideas to stop Russia’s war.
Musk suggested in a tweet that elections be held in four occupied areas that Moscow has wrongly annexed after so-called referendums and that the UN should be in charge of them. The governments of Kyiv and the west said that the votes were illegal and forced. “Russia will leave if the people want it to,” Musk wrote.
The CEO of Tesla also suggested that Moscow’s 2014 takeover of Crimea be officially recognized as Russia, that Crimea’s water supply be made sure of, and that Ukraine stay neutral. He asked people on Twitter to vote for or against his idea.
Ukrainians were upset by the tweet, so President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sent out his own poll in response.
Zelenskiy tweeted, “Which @elonmusk do you like more?” He gave two answers: one who supports Ukraine or one who supports Russia.
– Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if that is will of the people.
– Crimea formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).
– Water supply to Crimea assured.
– Ukraine remains neutral.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2022
Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, suggested a “better peace plan” in which Ukraine got back its lands, including Crimea, Russia was demilitarized and got rid of its nuclear weapons, and “war criminals” went before an international court.
Andriy Melnyk, who was the outspoken ambassador of Ukraine to Germany before he left, had a blunt response.
Melnyk tweeted, “Fuck off is my very polite answer to you, @elonmusk.”
Other European leaders spoke out against Musk’s plan as well.
“Dear @elonmusk, just because someone tries to steal your Tesla’s wheels doesn’t make them the legal owner of the car or the wheels. Even though they both say they voted for it. Just saying,” the president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausda, wrote on Twitter in response.
Musk, who is also the CEO of SpaceX, followed up his first tweet with another poll: “Let’s try this then: the people who live in the Donbas and Crimea should decide whether they are part of Russia or Ukraine.”
He said he didn’t care if his idea was unpopular, but he did care “that millions of people might die needlessly for an almost identical result.”
In February, when Russia invaded Ukraine and shut down the country’s internet, Musk answered a tweet from a government official in Ukraine asking for help. Musk said that Ukraine could use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service and that the company was sending more terminals.