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5 October 2022

Why is Elon Musk wasting the goodwill he’s built up over Ukraine?

After making a fool of himself on Twitter, it’s no surprise we’re nervous at the thought of him owning it.

By Oz Katerji

While the news is currently focused on Elon Musk saying that he will buy Twitter after all, this isn’t the only reason the richest man in the world has been making headlines this week.

“Ukraine-Russia Peace”, mused Musk, 51, on Twitter on Monday, before rattling off a list of policy proposals that Russian state media outlets fawned over for days, including handing Crimea to Russia, imposing “neutrality” on Ukraine and a “redo” of Putin’s sham secession referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories. There was a poll asking whether users agreed with his ridiculous plans.

The reaction from Ukrainians was swift and brutal, and appears to have blindsided the hapless billionaire. Even Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, weighed in with his own poll asking whether people preferred a pro-Ukraine or pro-Russia Musk. A Ukrainian ambassador told Musk to “f*** off”.

Musk’s poll and tweets were overwhelmed by pro-Ukrainian sentiment, causing Musk to complain, without evidence, that he had just experienced the “biggest bot attack I’ve ever seen”. The reaction, however, should have been entirely predictable for him.

Musk has a history of ignorantly inserting himself into international events that have nothing to do with him like a spoilt, jealous child at someone else’s birthday party aggrieved that the presents aren’t all for him. Who could forget the mini-submarine he had made for the Thai football team trapped in a flooded cave in 2018, and the bemused reactions of the rescue teams working to free the boys.

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To make matters worse, Musk had built up significant goodwill in Ukraine following the decision to provide Starlink, his satellite communication service, to Ukrainian ground forces during the early months of Russia’s invasion. Aiden Aslin, the recently freed Briton who had been serving with the Ukrainian armed forces, even went as far as directly thanking Musk last month for Starlink’s aid during the siege of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

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With his poll Musk has not only torched any goodwill he had built up with the Ukrainian people, he has once again proved his inability to stop doing and saying stupid things that about matters that have nothing to do with him on a social media platform he is seemingly determined to own. Given his accusation that Twitter users disagreeing with him meant there had been a “bot attack”, it is no surprise that many people are not exactly thrilled at the prospect of him owning the platform.

[See also: Vladimir Putin’s game of nuclear blackmail]

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