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Putin threatens to destroy Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites
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Report: Putin threatened Elon Musk that he would use nuclear weapons if Ukraine tried to retake Crimea’

Elon Musk denies reports he spoke to Putin before tweeting Russia-Ukraine ‘peace’ plan

Following a revelation by Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer that he had done so, Tesla CEO Elon Musk denies having a direct conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to sending out a Twitter poll with a sharply criticized suggestion for a “peace” plan for Russia and Ukraine.

Musk’s poll recommended that Crimea, which Moscow illegitimately acquired in 2014, be given back to Russia and that four additional annexed territories, comprising 15% of the total area of Ukraine, re-hold a referendum on joining Russia under UN supervision.

Additionally, he suggested that Ukraine maintain its neutrality by abandoning its application to join NATO and that Crimea’s water supply be secured.

Bremmer described a recent discussion he claimed to have had with Musk in a newsletter he issued to subscribers of the Eurasia Group. The newsletter was acquired by SpaceXMania after being originally published by Vice News.

Musk, though, refuted the dialogue taking place in a tweet on Tuesday in response to Vice News’ revelation. He stated, “I have only talked to Putin once and that was around 18 months ago. “Space served as the topic.”

Bremmer claimed to have spoken with Musk “two weeks ago” in contrast. At that point, according to Bremmer, Musk informed him that Putin had said he was “willing to talk” with the Tesla CEO “in a direct dialogue.”

But according to what Musk allegedly told Bremmer, Putin’s requirements were threefold: Crimea must become part of Russia with a guaranteed water supply, Ukraine must accept “a formal status of neutrality,” and the annexation of the four regions of Ukraine — the outcome of what Western leaders have dubbed “sham” referendums — must proceed.

Putin Threatens to Destroy Musk's Starlink Satellites
Putin Threatens to Destroy Musk’s Starlink Satellites

Those were the same requirements Musk outlined in his Twitter poll on October 3. Musk tweeted at the time, “This is extremely likely to be the conclusion in the end – just a matter of how many die before then.”

Musk allegedly told Bremmer that Putin intends to achieve these objectives “no matter what” and that the alternative would be “serious escalation” during their talk.

Putin allegedly warned Musk that if Ukraine took back Crimea, Russia “would react with a nuclear attack” on Ukraine. (Musk) stated such a result has to be avoided at all costs, according to Bremmer.

Bremmer’s account of the chat with Musk revealed that the Tesla CEO expressed fears about “more direct threats” from the Russian president, which also caused alarm for the founder of the Eurasia Group about Putin’s influence over the leader of that company.

While he avoided saying anything overt to me, Bremmer said that the two men did discuss Russian cyber capabilities and the country’s capacity to interfere with his satellites. Bremmer said that his personal reaction was not to accept Putin’s claims at face value and that he thought there was “zero possibility” that the West or Ukraine would “accept” Moscow’s offer.

Bremmer noted that Musk seemed to think this was a “fair reaction,” yet Musk afterward shared Putin’s suggested answers in the Twitter poll. Bremmer raised alarm in his newsletter about the potential impact Musk’s tweets, which he said included false information about Crimea’s past relations with Russia, may have on American views of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Trump-leaning sector of the Republican party has expressed a willingness to quit financially helping Ukraine in this conflict, which, according to Bremmer, makes the United States “possibly split” on the war in a manner that Europeans are not. Bremmer wrote: “(Given) that (Elon Musk) now appears more likely to purchase Twitter, at which point he’ll reinstall the previous president, you’ll have those same views with (Trump) and his complete political support behind it, perhaps causing the (United States) to become profoundly split on the subject.”

This seems to me to be a significant issue for the alliance moving ahead and is probably the main factor that might destabilize current policy.

Musk’s survey tweet at the time was promptly mocked by prominent Ukrainians, including diplomats and lawmakers. As a humorous reaction, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, took to Twitter to conduct his own poll, asking users to choose “which Elon Musk do you prefer more?”: “One who favors Russia,” “One who supports Ukraine,” etc.

“I still very much support Ukraine,” Musk said to Zelenskyy. “However, I am persuaded that a big escalation of the conflict would bring significant damage to Ukraine and maybe the globe.”

Elon Musk Ukraine
Elon Musk suggests Russia-Friendly proposal to end Ukraine-War

The departing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, made a blunt remark in response to Musk’s first tweet. My extremely kind response to you @elonmusk is “F— off,” he responded. The Kremlin itself responded, complimenting Musk’s idea but admonishing that Russia would not renege on its plans to annex parts of Ukraine.

According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, “it’s extremely great that someone like Elon Musk is attempting to find a peaceful conclusion,” he stated on October 4.

However, “as for the referendums, the people have spoken, and there could be nothing other.” After a slew of devastating Russian attacks on Ukraine on Monday, Bremmer reports on his talk with Musk.

At least 14 people were killed in the attacks, which also hit other Ukrainian cities including Kyiv’s center. According to Ukraine’s Emergency Service, about 100 additional people suffered injuries. Both important infrastructure and residential areas were devastated by the barrage.

Since late August, Ukraine has been defeating Russia with a successful counteroffensive that has forced Moscow to retreat its forces in several places.

Putin has said that the attacks were a reaction to what he referred to as “terrorist” conduct on the part of Ukraine, including an assault on a bridge leading to the portion of the Crimean Peninsula that is under the authority of Moscow.

Zelenskyy said in a televised address that the Russian attacks in 10 cities targeted energy infrastructure and residential neighborhoods. To do the maximum harm, Zelenskyy said that “(the Russians) purposefully selected such a moment and such targets.” Elon Musk’s team has been contacted by SpaceXMania for comment.

With inputs from Associate Press & Global News

What do you think?

Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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