Billionaire Elon Musk reportedly spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin before pitching a proposal to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week that largely aligned with Putin’s desires. Musk has since denied the claims.
Ian Bremmer, the founder of the foreign policy consultancy Eurasia Group, said Musk directly admitted to speaking with Putin before tweeting out a proposal for a way to end the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Bremmer made the claim in an email sent to Eurasia Group subscribers and first reported by Vice News.
Vice reported Musk told Bremmer about his conversation with Putin. Bremmer wrote that Putin told Musk that Russia is “prepared to negotiate,” but only if Crimea remained in Russian control, Ukraine committed to a form of permanent neutrality, and willingly ceded its eastern Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia territories to Russia’s annexation claims.
Musk reportedly told Bremmer that Putin told him Russia’s would pursue its goals “no matter what,” up to and including launching a nuclear strike if Ukraine tried to retake Crimea after Russia annexed the territory in 2014.
According to Bremmer, it was after Musk spoke with Putin that Musk tweeted out a peace proposal for the Ukraine conflict.
“Ukraine-Russia Peace: – Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if that is will of the people. – Crimea formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake). – Water supply to Crimea assured. – Ukraine remains neutral.” Musk tweered in a yes/no Twitter poll on Monday, Oct. 3.
If Bremmer’s characterization of Musk’s conversation with Putin is accurate, Musk’s proposal appears to be only a slight deviation from Putin’s own demands. While Putin sought Ukrainian recognition of Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Musk proposed throwing out the results of the Russian-controlled annexation referenda in those areas and redoing them under United Nations supervision, with a Russian commitment to leave if the vote didn’t go Russia’s way.
Musk did not mention the reported conversation with Putin prior to tweeting his peace proposal.
When asked about Vice’s reporting, Musk denied the claims, tweeting, “No, it is not [true]. I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space.”
After tweeting the peace proposal, Musk received praise from Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, who 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 tweeted.
“Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk tweeted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appearing to take note of that fact that Musk has helped Ukraine’s defenses by providing them access to his Starlink satellite internet service for free, asked his Twitter followers to vote on “Which @elonmusk do you like more?” with the choice of “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”