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Can Elon Musk End the War in Ukraine? He Certainly Has a Plan

Ukraine
Ukraine's military firing artillery. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Elon Musk has thoughts about how to end the war in Ukraine: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed optimism about bringing the war in Ukraine to an end this week, suggesting that comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter could be the solution required to end the conflict.

Speaking to reporters in a conference call, Peskov claimed that Moscow had always been open to bringing the conflict to an end through diplomacy and negotiations, and said that Musk’s suggestions were a “positive step” towards achieving a peace deal.

Musk’s suggestion, however, was not met with the same optimism from Ukraine.

What Elon Musk Proposed

Musk made a series of posts in recent days on Twitter about the conflict in Ukraine, including several polls in which he asked for feedback from other Twitter users.

In one of his posts, Musk said that Russia was on the verge of a “full” mobilization of its military if Crimea was at risk of being taken back by the Ukrainians. The Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder also warned that given Russia has more than three times the population of Ukraine, full war would mean a victory for Russia.

Musk made the suggestion that a full mobilization of Russian troops would guarantee a defeat for Ukraine in response to comments on a poll, shared on Monday, in which he asked whether the will of the people living in the Donbas and Crimea should “decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine.”

The poll followed an initial tweet in which Musk recommended that the recent referendums in the Donbas, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson should be redone under the supervision of the United Nations.

“Russia leaves if that is will of the people,” Musk said.

Musk also recommended allowing Crimea to remain formally part of the Russian Federation, “as it has been since 1783.”

The CEO’s final two recommendations were that a water supply to Crimea is assured, and “Ukraine remains neutral” – the latter of which appears to be a reference to Kyiv’s repeated efforts to join NATO.

Musk followed up the tweet by suggesting that his recommendation is “highly likely” to be the eventual outcome of the war anyway and that by coming to a compromise now, both sides can avert further unnecessary deaths.

How Ukraine Responded

Musk’s comments were immediately criticized by high-level Ukrainian officials, including the Ukrainian president himself.

In a poll of his own, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked his Twitter followers which Elon Musk people like more.

“One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”

The poll revealed the deep anger of the Ukrainian government with Musk’s comments, likely knowing how popular Musk is in the United States and the influence he may have as the richest man on the planet. Zelenskyy also purposely misrepresented Musk’s position on the war.

“I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world,” Musk responded.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, also responded in anger to Musk’s proposal, telling the American businessman to “f*ck off” in a tweet from his verified account.

Musk’s support of Ukraine is well-documented. More than just verbal support, Musk has provided valuable technical support to the Ukrainian resistance in the form of StarLink satellite internet connection systems from his SpaceX company. The StarLink devices sent to Ukraine have reportedly cost SpaceX more than $80 million so far.

Is Putin Being Honest?

Ukraine’s position on the proposal is clear; Kyiv won’t stop fighting to take back control of the Donbas and Crimea for as long as the West keeps providing security assistance. For Russia, however, the war is won or lost on whether its military can continue to fight against advanced NATO weapons. At present, Russia can’t keep up with the supply of advanced missile systems being sent from Europe and the United States, and Putin has already indicated that nuclear conflict is not off the cards if the war looks unwinnable.

With that in mind, the Kremlin knows that a peace deal is the second-best outcome for Russia, behind a military victory that doesn’t require the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. But is the Kremlin’s support for Musk’s proposal honest?

Undoubtedly, what Musk suggested would be a good outcome for Russia. It would give Putin the victory he needs to present to the Russian people and show that the war wasn’t for nothing. It would establish Crimea as Russian, and it would give the Kremlin an opportunity to take control of the Donbas region off the back of more legitimate, United Nations-supervised referendums.

There is, of course, the risk that Russia could not win the elections in the Donbas fair and square – but given a large number of ethnic Russians in the region, the Kremlin would certainly be in with a good shot of winning.

Russia may also be counting on the possibility that those who have already fled the region will not be able to cast a vote – something the United Nations or any other international body would almost certainly recognize as unfair. At the same time, the Kremlin may also simply recognize the fact that Ukraine is unlikely to accept the deal, and the specifics of a “re-do” of the referendums, therefore, do not really matter.

More than anything, the Kremlin’s praise for Musk may simply be an opportunity for Russia to establish a narrative that Putin – undoubtedly the aggressor, regardless of whether NATO’s eastward expansion triggered the war – wants peace.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Ad

    October 5, 2022 at 9:53 am

    I Think Elon Musk has forgotten that a lot of Russian people don’t want this war. Maybe Russie has 3 times more people, but look how many people (future soldiers) did escape from Russia the last few days…

  2. bill.gates

    October 5, 2022 at 11:29 am

    Elon Mush has not forgotten anything.

    Q. What does it take to manufacturing and sell cars in China under preferential treatment?

    A. One’s soul.

  3. Tamerlane

    October 5, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Yeah, 200,000 out of 155,000,000 left. What’s your point Ad?

    You’re forgetting that Russian elites far beyond Putin believe Ukraine within NATO is an existential threat to Russia. Russia’s going to escalate as far as needed here, as Ukraine is in their existential interests. It isn’t for us here in the U.S., perhaps sadly for them. But if they want to fight until they get nuked into unconditional surrender to Ivan, that’s their poison.

  4. Jiri Novacek

    October 5, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    Elon Musk was obviously subjected to intense russian/chinese pressure and disinformation campaigns in the last few months.

  5. Yrral

    October 5, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Musk is not always there,but he was just trying to save Ukrainain from going back into the stone age,lots of American are delusional,when has we left a war on our own terms

  6. Rick

    October 5, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    Musk might be a tech genius, but he should stay in his own lane…while smoking pot and talking stupid.

  7. Jack

    October 5, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    The Russian military appears to be incompetent. Their equipment seems to be mediocre at best.The Ukrainians are killing Russian soldiers at a pretty quick rate. The momentum seems to be shifting in favor of Ukraine… Why should they negotiate anything right now… Other than Russia leaving Ukraine?

    Also don’t forget Russia owes Ukraine a huge amount of money because of their unprovoked attack…

  8. Tamerlane

    October 5, 2022 at 11:12 pm

    Yes Rick, and leave extricating there U.S. from nuclear Armageddon to a competent leader like Biden…

  9. Tallifer

    October 6, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Why would the Ukraine surrender anything now that they are winning? As Napoleon said, “In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.” In other words, men willing to fight and die, and who think they will win, have a better chance of winning.

  10. Rick

    October 6, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    Tamerlane, You seem to be under the misguided belief that the west is afraid of your midget bully. Use a nuke and see what happens.

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