Elon Musk, a dubious ally

The Tesla and SpaceX boss sparked Ukrainian ire by posting a poll on Twitter on Monday (October 3) calling on his 107 million followers to vote on his proposed “peace plan” for the Russian war- Ukrainian. . His proposals include recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, neutral statehood for Ukraine, and the organization of referendums under the aegis of the United Nations in the four annexed Ukrainian regions on September 30 to determine whether they want to stay inside Russia or not.

Visibly concerned about a potential nuclear conflagration, Elon Musk said his plan is “ probably such as one that the conflict will eventually produce, saying that the only unknown is the number of people who will lose their lives during that time. “Russia has launched a partial mobilization, and it will switch to a general mobilization if Crimea is threatened”, he added, noting that victory for Ukraine in the event of an “all-out war” is unlikely; because the population of Russia is “three times than Ukraine”.

Unanimous criticism from the Ukrainian authorities

The billionaire’s messages earned him a lot of criticism from kyiv. “Which Elon Musk do you like: the one who supports Ukraine or the one who supports Russia? », answered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a poll on Twitter – and to which 2 million Internet users responded, praising the first answer. Presidential adviser Mikhaïlo Podoliak also reacted, proposing “better peace plan” including “liberation of its territories by Ukraine, including the annexed Crimea” and the “demilitarization and denuclearization” of Russia. In less punitive language, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrïï Melnyk, invited Elon Musk to “you fool”.

The recent annexation of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions by Russia on September 30 has convinced Kyiv to avoid any negotiations with the Russian Federation as long as Vladimir Putin is its president. The invitation to compromise made by Elon Musk may have come as a surprise, especially given the direct material support he has provided to the Ukrainian army since the invasion began on February 24.

The American billionaire gave Ukraine a Starlink kit, designed by his company SpaceX, which provides Ukrainian soldiers with a vital internet connection via a “constellation” of low-orbit satellites. Recently, on September 29, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense published a video in which many soldiers thanked Elon Musk for providing them with this communication device.

Hubris and promotion in advertising

Before Ukraine, the entrepreneur has already sent Starlink kits in recent years to several regions of the world affected by natural disasters, such as after the volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands in January 2022. In another register, -he also offered his techno-industrial empire help to design a “mini-submarine” aimed at rescuing Thai teenagers trapped in a cave in 2018.

These “humanitarian” interventions include a clear advertising dimension, which can be criticized. That is why commentators argue that the deployment of Starlink in Ukraine is also a way of counterbalancing the criticisms that the scientific community has addressed to this constellation of low-orbit satellites, which are accused of hindering space observation.

The promotional aspect of these actions is however inseparable from the billionaire’s sincere belief in the capacity of technology to solve all problems, affirms Olivier Lascar, author of the book Investigating Elon Musk, the man who fights science (Ed. Alisio). The journalist also sees in his “peace plan” the sign of Elon Musk’s “hubris”. “It is characteristic of his sense of omnipotence, and of a somewhat erratic character. He constantly claims to do things for the benefit of mankind. But we often have the impression that he shoots before and thinks after. The consequences are sometimes harmful for his businesses, but it preserves his character as a free man. »

“Of course we are pro-Ukraine”

Despite his material support for Ukraine, the businessman distinguished himself by a casual, even ambiguous position vis-à-vis the conflict. On March 14, he challenged Vladimir Putin on Twitter “single battle” that bet will be the fate of Ukraine. That same day, he published a drawing of a thin man waving a Ukrainian flag against a background of LGBT flags, under the caption: “ I support the matter of the moment».

Faced with furious reactions to his “peace plan”, the richest man in the world (223 billion dollars, according to the Bloomberg site) said on Tuesday October 4 that the provision of Starlink in Ukraine is already worth $80 million at SpaceX. “Our support for Russia is $0. Of course we are pro-Ukraine. » With one user taking him to task, the billionaire denied having some ulterior motive: “You thought I wanted to be famous. I do not care. »

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