WASHINGTON — American tech billionaire Elon Musk drew the public ire of Ukraine’s top officials Monday after the Tesla CEO tweeted what he claimed was the most likely outcome of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
“F— off is my very diplomatic reply to you,” Ukraine’s outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, wrote in response to Musk’s tweet. “The only outcome is that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your f…ing tesla crap. So good luck to you.”
Musk posted a Twitter poll gauging support for what he claimed was a likely outcome of the seven-month conflict. Specifically:
That the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which Russia annexed by force in 2014, be permanently given to Russia and guaranteed a permanent water supply.That the four regions of eastern Ukraine where Russia held sham referendums last month before illegally annexing the land be put to new referendums, this time organized by the United Nations.That Ukraine should be forced to remain “neutral,” accomplishing the long-term Kremlin goal of barring Ukraine from joining the NATO defensive alliance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded with a Twitter poll of his own.
“Which Elon Musk do you like more?” Zelenskyy asked, giving two options for an answer: “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”
The sharp responses from Ukraine were all the more notable because Musk has earned quasi-folk-hero status in Ukraine since the start of the conflict.
Musk’s Starlink satellite communication system has allowed Ukrainians and the Ukrainian military to bypass internet outages that have plagued the country.
Yet the remarks from Musk are not entirely out of character for the political iconoclast and world’s richest man.
While the business interests of Tesla have traditionally aligned with the American political left, Musk has of late cultivated an antagonistic relationship with major Democratic political figures including President Joe Biden, whose administration has boosted Ukraine through weapons packages and sanctions on Moscow.