Ukraine presidential aide warns against Musk's 'magical simple solutions'

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II in Hawthorne, California, US, on Aug 27, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

KYIV - A top Ukrainian presidential aide criticised Twitter owner Elon Musk on Sunday (Dec 4) for the billionaire’s “magical simple solutions,” citing ideas put forward by Musk on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Twitter content moderation.

Mykhailo Podolyak listed “exchang(ing) foreign territories for an illusory peace” and “open(ing) all private accounts because freedom of speech has to be total”, as examples of such suggestions.

“(Elon Musk) prefers so-called magical ‘simple solutions’,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter, an apparent reference to self-described free speech advocate Musk’s plans to reform Twitter, which he took over on Oct 27, as well as a tweet in which he called for Ukraine to give up the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula in exchange for peace.

Twitter representatives did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Ukraine has had a complicated relationship with Musk, the world’s richest man, since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb 24.

He was praised in the war’s early days for providing thousands of Starlink satellite internet devices, made by Musk’s SpaceX, to Ukraine free of charge, but the friendship ran into difficulties in October when Musk voiced support for peace conditions rejected by Kyiv.

The billionaire called for Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, to be declared formally part of Russia, and for UN-supervised referendums on whether Russia should stay or leave to be held in other occupied territories.

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The tweet drew angry rebukes from Ukrainian officials, including Podolyak. Kyiv has repeatedly dismissed the idea that it will give up land for peace.

Soon after this dispute, Musk publicly complained about the cost of providing free Starlink services to Ukraine indefinitely. He said in October that only 10,630 of 25,300 Starlinks sent to Ukraine were actually paying for service.

Kyiv has acknowledged that “some” terminals are being provided free but has not given exact figures.

In a change of tone Musk said on Oct 15 that the company would continue to run Ukraine’s free Starlinks.