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Bargaining to buy some face: how Putin used Musk in the information war

Olexandra Zakharova
Project manager The Page, political columnist

An interesting story was revealed recently: Elon Musk allegedly didn’t come up with his "peace plan for Ukraine" on his own accord but was encouraged by speaking with Vladimir Putin. Ian Bremmer, political scientist and founder of Eurasia Group, reported this, citing Musk’s own words.

The latter, the expert claimed, told him that Putin was prepared to negotiate on conditions that the billionaire posted on Twitter: Crimea is given to Russia, and Ukraine recognizes the annexation of four regions and becomes neutral, which means giving up on its NATO aspirations, Vice wrote.

Some time after this information had spread on Ukrainian social media and news outlets, Musk personally denied that he had spoken to Putin recently, claiming that their last conversation was 18 months ago and its subject matter was space.

Nevertheless, no matter who Musk spoke with before tweeting the poll that outraged Ukrainians, his "peace plan" perfectly reiterates the claims of the world’s top terrorist, who blackmails the whole global community with an energy crisis, then with hunger, then with nuclear weapons.

However, the billionaire didn’t necessarily receive information about Putin’s ideas first-hand since he previously admitted, for example, that he was a curious reader of RT, an infamous Russian propagandistic outlet. In addition, there were rumors that Musk had ties to some Russian businesses, which could also convey Putin's aspirations to him.

So either Elon Musk might have business interests in Russia or with Russians, or he thought it was a good idea to tweet a "peace offer" from a terrorist after having talked to Putin personally or having taken a dose of Kremlin propagande — and I honestly don’t know which one sounds more disparaging of him.

Perhaps, Musk was tempted to gain the laurels of a peacemaker and thought that his proposition to appease the Kremlin could impress a person who earnestly waves a banner of a holy war for "traditional lifestyle" while his own people struggle to live without basic amenities and promotes the idea of putting the Anglo-Saxons (friendly reminder: these Germanic tribes lived in the 5–7th centuries) to their knees. A man who dreams of regaining the conquests of Tsar Peter I, which European and American comedians are already openly laughing at.

However, we could as well overlook these details. The fact is, the businessman talked to the dictator — or he didn’t, and these are Musk's own conclusions about what Vladimir Putin wants.

The Putin who loses his "sacred" operation, which in fact is a war of aggression and terrorism, commits a genocide of the Ukrainian people, and bluntly says: I will still take what I want by force; even if I fail on the battlefield (which is already happening, as we can see), I will throw a nuke at you. Or maybe you prefer peace?

"Maybe peace?" says the maniac — you don't punish me for the crime, and the victim and I stay together and live on my terms. Let’s agree, and I won’t indulge in threats and aggression anymore, including against you (spoiler alert: he will). "Maybe peace?" says the maniac who threatened to take Kyiv in three days, then to seize the entire east and the south of Ukraine, and now he does not know himself which "borders" he would want to stop at, because his military are being ousted from the lands foreign to them. Or else, says the maniac, there will be a third world war.

So instead of sounding the alarm that Vladimir Putin should be isolated from society and maybe examined by psychiatrists, let alone condemned for genocide and terrorist war, Musk absurdly becomes an ambassador of Russia's narratives.

Including "Khrushchev's mistake", which has already become a buzz phrase for the civilized world, and the explanation that Ukraine must be forced to make peace on the aggressor’s terms, forced to neutrality, forced to leave its people hostage to terrorists, forced to give up its territories, where the victims of Russian aggression haven’t all been counted yet. Where Ukrainians are still tortured in "filtration camps".

The U.S. has once committed to not negotiating with terrorists, so Musk should take the same stance. Because, obviously, he does not understand how Russian propaganda works and what percentage of it (spoiler alert: no less than 99.999...%) shouldn’t be taken at face value (Emmanuel Macron, who once offered to save Putin's face, could probably confirm this) but instead stored for examination, either psychiatric or forensic.

Interestingly, this happens after Old Europe gave up (at least publicly) trying to save that ugly face and pledged support to Ukraine for as long as it takes to retake its territory — not within the February 23 borders, but the whole internationally recognized territory. And among the key reasons are Ukraine showing significant success on the battlefield and the Ukrainians proving their resolve to fight to the end, despite any nuclear threats.

Perhaps the Kremlin dictator also comes to feel this, as he tries to make some kind of "save-face" bargain, either through terrorism or by making offers through famous opinion leaders, such as billionaire Elon Musk. However, this would be a tough sell since even India and China are no longer comfortable helping Moscow. His home country is the only place where he can hope to maintain his standing by feeding the Russians propaganda, which takes the Kremlin more and more effort to keep together.

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