Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, entered the fray of global politics on Monday by offering his own plan for a settlement to end Russia's conflict in Ukraine. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, responded immediately and dismissively.
Elon Musk is no stranger to controversy, as he frequently tweets controversial or downright provocative opinions on Twitter, that have been described as “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” by his own staff. It’s also very commonplace for him to tweet completely contradictory opinions, often in the span of a single day. The entrepreneur and divisive Twitter personality is currently embroiled in a fierce legal battle to reverse his $44 billion acquisition of the app.
And while most world leaders have been silent on the subject of how Ukraine should defend itself and how a resolution has to be achieved, Mr. Musk, whose views frequently receive a lot of attention on social media, hasn't been shy about expressing his viewpoint.
Musk asked his 107 million Twitter followers to vote "yes" or "no" on his proposal for a four-part peace deal to end the conflict in a post on Monday. Rerunning Russia's staged referendums under U.N. supervision is among the ideas, as is taking Crimea into consideration as part of Russia.
Shortly after, Volodymyr Zelensky responded with a Twitter poll of his own, criticizing Musk. He asked his followers, "Which @elonmusk do you like more?" and included a poll with the choices, "One who supports Ukraine" and "One who supports Russia." Over a million people responded to the survey as of this writing, with 84 percent of them in support of Ukraine.
The former president of Russia and current vice-chairman of the Security Council, Dmitri A. Medvedev, also reacted to Mr. Musk on Twitter by sending him his "kudos" in an enigmatic message.
Paradoxically, despite sharing perplexing opinions about the conflict on numerous occasions, Elon Musk has been providing support for Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict. Since March he has delivered the nation 12,000 Starlink internet terminals, which collaborate with satellites circling in space to enable Internet access, which has been critical for Ukraine’s success.