Musk suggested Ukraine remained neutral and Crimea became formally part of Russia. Billionaire's attempt at geopolitics outraged Ukraine and its allies.
In a tweet, Musk said that UN-supervised votes should be held in four Ukrainian regions that Russia said it was annexing after so-called referendums that Kyiv and Western governments denounced as illegal and coercive.
"Russia leaves if that is the will of the people," Musk said in a tweet laying out his four-point Ukraine-Russia "peace" plan that included recognizing Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014, as formally part of Russia.
Tesla's boss also said that water supply must be assured to Crimea and proposed Ukraine – which applied for NATO membership last week – remain neutral. He then asked Twitter users to vote yes or no to his idea.
This sparked an online row, with many users finding the plan infuriating, as it seemed to reward Russia for an unprovoked war it started against Ukraine.
Some also pointed out that the people of Ukraine had already made up their minds in the 1991 independence referendum, which Russia recognized as legitimate. Back then, the majority of the population, including ethnic Russians and people in Crimea, voted to be part of Ukraine.
Proposals "moral idiocy"
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to Musk's plan with his own Twitter poll. "Which @elonmusk do you like more?" he enquired, providing two options: one that supports Ukraine and one that supports Russia.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said: "Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn't make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favor of it. Just saying".
Zelensky's aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted a "better peace plan" that involved Ukraine liberating its territories, including Crimea. It also proposed a demilitarized and denuclearized Russia and an international tribunal for war criminals.
Ukraine's outspoken ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, did not mince words and used a strong expletive in what he said was "my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk."
Garry Kasparov, a chess grandmaster and a prominent Russian opposition figure, said Musk's proposals were "moral idiocy, repetition of Kremlin propaganda, a betrayal of Ukrainian courage & sacrifice."
In his original tweet, Musk claimed Crimea went to Ukraine by "mistake," a popular Russian propaganda narrative. In following responses to criticism, he said that Ukraine's attempts to recapture Crimea could lead to a nuclear war.
It is something Moscow often repeats to dissuade Western support for Ukraine as its forces face setbacks on the battleground. Musk insisted his plan was "highly likely" to be an outcome of the war anyway – "just a question of how many die before then."
He said he still supported Ukraine, noting that "we gave Starlinks to Ukraine" and claiming the loss of $80 million as a result – all the while putting SpaceX and himself "at serious risk" of a Russian cyberattack.
SpaceX sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine to ensure an undisrupted internet connection immediately after the Russian invasion in February. The US government paid for some of the equipment and transportation costs.
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