ELON MUSK HAS taken some time off from his protracted legal battle with Twitter to try to end the war in Ukraine. The world’s richest man earlier this month drew intense scrutiny for advocating a peace agreement that involves recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. He pushed Vladimir Putin’s claim of dominion over the Ukrainian territory again on Monday, arguing on Twitter that Russia’s relationship to Crimea is comparable to America’s relationship to Hawaii.
“Whether one likes it or not, Crimea is absolutely seen as a core part of Russia by Russia,” he wrote. “Crimea is also of critical national security importance to Russia, as it is their southern navy base. From their standpoint losing Crimea is like USA losing Hawaii & Pearl Harbor.”
He made the Hawaii comparison again later. “Crimea *is* seen as a crucial part of Russia by Russia, much as Hawaii is seen as a crucial part of America,” he wrote.
The comments came on a thread that began with Musk praising an op-ed, titled “Neocons and the Woke Left Are Joining Hands and Leading Us to Woke War III,” that bashes the “woke mob” for “canceling” Musk for his plan to recognize Crimea as belonging to Russia.
Musk’s contention that “Crimea is absolutely seen as a core part of Russia by Russia” is certainly true — at least if by “Russia,” you mean Putin and his fellow hardliners. But this is kind of like saying Trump “absolutely” sees the 2020 election as rigged. Putin also believes Russia should have control of the rest of Ukraine, as well as a host of other delusions predicated on the idea that anything he feels is correct — and anyone who tries to say different is a tool of the West as it seeks to corrupt the divine purity of a regime that has spent 2022 bombing hospitals.
Ukraine does not belong to Russia. Crimea doesn’t, either. The territory was recognized internationally as part of Ukraine when Russia invaded the nation to illegally annex it in 2014. Russia has not been faring well since invading Ukraine earlier this year, and many, including Musk, are worried about how Putin may respond should his prospects to take over Ukraine continue to dim. Musk says the West should cow to Putin’s demands in order to avoid nuclear annihilation.
Musk is carrying Putin’s water by broadcasting the idea that the West should just let Russia keep control of Crimea. “It’s very clear that Elon Musk is transmitting a message for Putin,” Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official who specializes in Russia, told Politico in an interview published Monday. “Putin plays the egos of big men, gives them a sense that they can play a role,” she added. “But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin.”
Musk supported Ukraine early in the war by sending the nation thousands of Starlink terminals that allowed it to access the internet as it fought off Russia’s invasion. He said last week that his company SpaceX could not fund their use “indefinitely,” before appearing to change his mind a few days later. “The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky has praised Musk for the infusion of terminals allowing internet access, but didn’t take kindly to his recent tweet suggesting Ukraine should cede to Russia’s demands over Crimea. “Which @elonmusk do you like more?” he wrote on Twitter along with a poll, the two responses being “One who supports Ukraine” and “One who supports Russia.”
Russia, however, welcomed Musk’s proposal, with Kremlin spokesperson telling reporters it was a “very positive” development, according to The New York Times, adding that it’s “absolutely impossible” to end the war “without fulfilling Russia’s conditions.”