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Elon Musk, the wealthy businessman, has wielded tremendous geopolitical influence with his broadband internet Starlink satellites ever since the Russian-Ukraine war began (Olinga, 2022). However, whereas Elon’s commitment and support for Ukraine have been clear throughout the war, his recent tweets about the ongoing conflict have sparked much debate, with many doubting his prior stance. This statement is attributed explicitly to his latest thoughts on stopping Russia’s invasion, which has generated mistrust and confusion among Ukrainians. Therefore, in reference to these latest developments, this article examines Elon’s political attitude, ranging from his early support for Ukraine to his recent pro-Russian tweets, which enraged Ukrainian people and leaders.
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Elon Musk’s Contribution
Early in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Elon Musk dispatched several of his Starlink terminals to Ukraine to communicate with Ukrainian military forces and even to aid civilians contacting the outside world (Olinga, 2022). Musk won the admiration of Ukrainians through this deed, who hailed him as a savior for making the country operational as Russian tanks rolled across its borders. Interestingly, not many people were contemplating the current conflict when SpaceX started deploying its Starlink satellite networks into orbit in 2019 (Vinion, 2022). Since its deployment, the Starlink constellation has aided the transmission of broadband connectivity to underdeveloped regions of the globe, particularly for the Ukrainian troops, who have been using the satellites in the battleground to enhance their communications.
Apparently, the military of Ukraine has benefited significantly from Musk’s SpaceX satellites amid Russia’s incursion (Vinion, 2022). Additionally, the Ukrainians have relied on an Internet connection to remain in touch with one another, including the outside world, through communication and networking applications. Fedorov’s tweets also show that the Ukrainian government has utilized the internet to present its position to the outside world and dispel pro-Russian misinformation spread by the nation’s well-known online propaganda apparatuses (Vinion, 2022). SpaceX satellite Internet has enabled Ukraine to gain the backing and sympathies of a large portion of the global community while Russia continues to be subjected to financial sanctions.
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Elon Musk’s Controversial Tweet
While other wealthy businesspeople like tweeting their opinions on current events, none can compare to Elon Musk’s power and propensity for mischief (Zilber, 2022). After a misguided venture into geopolitics, Elon’s saintly reputation in Ukraine recently suffered a significant knock. This decrease was witnessed after the Tesla entrepreneur tweeted his four-point peace proposal, asking that Crimea be made an official Russian territory. He also suggested that new referendums be held in the recently-annexed territories of Ukraine with UN oversight (Olinga, 2022). Elon challenged his subscribers in that contentious tweet about whether they agreed with his four-point ceasefire agreement to halt the conflict. Elon’s ideas appeared to reflect Kremlin suggestions, which pushed Ukraine to welcome Russia’s acquisition of Crimea, renounce joining NATO, and consent to further referendums on independence in previously Russian-occupied territories. Elon continued by mentioning that some regions of Ukraine supported Russia.
As expected, Ukrainians expressed a strongly negative attitude toward Elon’s proposition (Zilber, 2022). Less enthusiastic, Mr. Musk’s supporters voted the concept down. In response, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, conducted a poll among his supporters, in which he asked them to choose between Elon, who favors Ukraine, or Elon, who favors Russia. Musk, in his reply, stated he still firmly backs Ukraine, though he was concerned about the damage resulting from escalating the conflict. Aside from the Ukrainian president, other Ukrainian officials, particularly Andrija Melnyk, reacted angrily to Elon’s suggestion tweet and blasted him to “fuck off” (Zilber, 2022). The controversy surrounding this tweet spread to other claims, including those made by consultant Ian Bremmer, who, through his widely circulated geopolitical newsletter, claimed Musk made his lewd proposition after speaking with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. Bremmer also claimed that Musk had informed him about the accusations, which both Musk and the Kremlin strongly disputed.
As influential leaders and Ukrainians continued to blast Elon Musk for his peace treaty suggestion and questioned his stance, Elon raised another concern, requesting that the government cover the extra terminals he supplied to Ukraine and the network service (Olinga, 2022). The statement came after Musk stated that SpaceX would not keep supporting the Ukraine Starlink terminals indefinitely. It was unclear if Musk was just being humorous. Musk responded to a Twitter post on the move by saying that people should continue to do good (Olinga, 2022). Soon after, Elon Musk changed his decision to cease sponsoring the Starlink terminals shipped to Ukraine, tweeting that the business will keep providing “free” satellite communication to the Ukrainians even if he risks losing money.
Musk’s most recent political utterances on Twitter have raised concerns about his attitude and support for Ukraine. Even still, it is difficult to dismiss his unwavering support for Ukraine, particularly the influence his Starlink communication networks played throughout the war in providing Ukraine a considerable advantage. Notwithstanding his contribution, it must be acknowledged that his latest Twitter post has undoubtedly been distracting. For example, his controversial and provocative suggestion tweet proved disastrous. It would be false to imply that this drama is close to being ended, given the commotion that Musk’s tweet has caused. Musk needs to realize that Twitter is certainly not the best medium for resolving international issues. However, his opinions have revealed the flimsy whims of sustaining critical services amid a conflict that might determine the future of democracy.
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- Olinga, L. (2022, October 3). Elon Musk has a controversial idea to end the war in Ukraine. TheStreet. https://www.thestreet.com/technology/elon-musk-has-a-controversial-plan-to-end-the-russia-ukraine-war
- Zilber, A. (2022, October 4). Ukraine tells Elon Musk to ‘f–K off’ after his peace proposal to end the war with Russia sparks outrage. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2022/10/03/elon-musks-peace-proposal-to-end-russia-ukraine-war-sparks-outrage/
- Vinion, K. (2022, October 20). How Elon Musk’s Starlink became invaluable to Ukraine’s war effort. RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. https://www.rferl.org/a/starlink-elon-musk-ukraine-war-russia-funding/32091045.html
- Olinga, L. (2022, October 25). Elon Musk takes sides on the end strategy in Ukraine. TheStreet. https://www.thestreet.com/technology/elon-musk-identifies-way-to-force-ceasefire-in-the-russia-ukraine-war