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Is Elon Musk lying about ‘not’ talking to Putin? Here’s what Ian Bremmer’s saying

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
October 12, 2022

Political scientist Ian Bremmer is sticking by his claims that Elon Musk told him he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Russia’s demands regarding the war in Ukraine.

Bremmer, who is the founder of the foreign policy and political-risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, sent out an email to his subscribers on Monday detailing an alleged conversation he had with Musk. According to Bremmer, Musk spoke with Putin shortly before pitching a peace offering for Ukraine last week that aligned with Putin’s demands and drew criticism from Ukraine’s government.

Musk denied Bremmer’s claims on Tuesday, saying the only time he spoke with Putin was 18 months ago, and said their conversation was about space.

In spite of Musk’s denial about the alleged recent conversation with Putin, Bremmer is standing by his version of events.

“elon musk told me he had spoken with putin and the kremlin directly about ukraine. he also told me what the kremlin’s red lines were,” Bremmer tweeted.

“i have been writing my weekly newsletter on geopolitics for 24 yrs,” Bremme added. “i write honestly without fear or favor and this week’s update was no different.”

According to Vice News, which obtained a copy of Bremmer’s Monday subscriber email, Putin told Musk that Russia is “prepared to negotiate,” but only if it retains control of Crimea and Ukraine cedes its eastern Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia territories to Russia’s annexation claims and commits to a permanent form of neutrality between Russia and NATO.

Musk’s peace proposal included a call for the territories Russia annexed from Ukraine to redo their annexation referendums under United Nations supervision, with the condition that Russian forces leave if the territories don’t still vote to join Russia. Musk’s proposal did call for the international community to recognize Crimea as Russian territory and for Ukraine to commit to not cutting off the flow of water to the territory.

Musk’s peace plan also called for Ukraine to commit to neutrality, which is also in line with the terms Putin demanded in his alleged conversation with Musk.

After sharing his peace proposal last week, Russian Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said it was a good sign that someone with Musk’s influence is “looking for a peaceful way out.” Peskov then reiterated that there cannot be peace “without fulfilling Russia’s conditions.”

Ukrainian officials, by contrast, rejected the proposal Musk offered.

“Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk tweeted in reply to Musk.

After insisting his version of events was accurate, Bremmer tweeted, “i’ve long admired musk as a unique and world-changing entrepreneur, which i’ve said publicly. he’s not a geopolitics expert.”