You know what’s probably not going to solve an ongoing war and global crisis? A Twitter poll. You know what’s extra not going to solve an ongoing war and global crisis? A Twitter poll where the participants are mostly Elon Musk’s followers. But unfortunately, the world’s richest man doesn’t seem to realise he’s not also an expert foreign policy analyst or an ambassador.
Yesterday, the Tesla CEO tweeted out his four point vision for “Ukraine-Russia Peace,” along with a two choice yes/no interactive poll. Musk’s “plan” suggests a redo of elections in annexed Ukraine under UN supervision, that Crimea be given to Russia, and that Ukraine remain neutral in its own occupation.
More than 2.6 million users have cast their votes so far. As of writing, the results stand at 40.6% “Yes,” 59.4% “No.” (I voted “no” to see the polling results.)
But others opted to participate in a different way. For instance, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, who responded, “Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you.”
Or, Ukranian President Vlodymyr Zelensky who posted his own poll, concerning Musk. The Zelensky tweet asks if participants prefer their SpaceX CEO to support Ukraine or Russia.
Once the top Ukrainian government official began engaging with Musk directly, the exchange started to pick up widespread media coverage. Including state-run media coverage in Russia. It turns out, the Kremlin appreciated Musk’s ideas more than Ukraine did. Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, reportedly called the tech billionaire’s tweet “very positive,” and said that his ideas “deserve attention,” in an article from RIA News, first reported on by Business Insider.
As Insider described, Musk’s argument seems to parrot Kremlin talking points, particularly the idea that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia. Though, to be fair, Peskov did disagree with Musk’s suggestion of holding a new, UN-monitored election. Last month, four Russian occupied areas of Ukraine “voted” to join the Russian Federation, in referendums that were widely viewed as staged and rigged. The Russian government has repeatedly asserted that the elections demonstrated the voice of the people, the EU and other western powers strongly disagree. A resolution to designate the elections as illegal was proposed in the UN; Russia voted against it.
Yet, amid all the backlash, Musk continued to dig his heels in, doubling then tripling down. Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, noted Putin critic, and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation called Musk’s poll “moral idiocy,” in his own tweet on the matter.
In response, Musk pointed out that SpaceX offered Starlink satellite internet connectivity to Ukraine, and asked Kasparov, “What have you done besides tweet?” Which is somehow maybe even a dumber question than the original yes/no Musk posed, considering Kasparov’s ongoing anti-Putin activism led him to leave his home country in 2014.
The timing of this whole tweetstorm? Suspiciously close to the much hyped, yet slightly underwhelming Tesla AI robot unveiling. On Friday, Musk revealed a prototype that couldn’t really walk and is still far from the intelligent humanoid machine capable of replacing people power he promised. Yesterday, following the end-of-week robot reveal and Musk’s foray into online diplomacy, Tesla’s stock fell by about 9%.
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