Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Quickfire
5 October

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.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

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.

Content from our partners
Why public health policy needs to refocus
The five key tech areas for the public sector in 2023
You wouldn’t give your house keys to anyone, so why do that with your computers?

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]

Topics in this article: , , ,