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Elon Musk is reportedly earning close to $98,800 (Rs 81 lakh) from his subscribers alone | File photo

Elon Musk and Zelensky in row over Tesla chief’s Ukraine 'peace plan poll'

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Billionaire Elon Musk and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky got into a squabble on Twitter after Musk asked Twitter users to weigh in on a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine which drew immediate criticism from Ukrainians, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, who responded with his own poll.

In a Twitter poll, Musk proposed UN-supervised elections in four occupied regions that Moscow last week moved to annex after what it called “referendums”. The votes were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

Also read: Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine territories: India abstains on UNSC resolution

“Russia leaves if that is will of the people,” Musk wrote.

“Which @elonmusk do you like more?” Zelensky tweeted, offering two responses: one who supports Ukraine, one who supports Russia.

Crimea for Russia: Musk

The Tesla Inc chief executive suggested that Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, be formally recognised as Russia, that water supply to Crimea be assured and that Ukraine remain neutral. He asked Twitter users to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the plan.

“Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn’t make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favour of it. Just saying,” Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda tweeted in response.

Ukraine’s outspoken outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk gave a harsh reaction to Musk’s “peace plan” poll, stating that “no Ukrainian will ever buy Tesla”.

Musk, who is also chief executive of SpaceX, followed up his first tweet with another poll: “Let’s try this then: the will of the people who live in the Donbas & Crimea should decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine.”

Musk doesn’t mind being unpopular

He said he didn’t care if his proposal was unpopular, arguing that he did care “that millions of people may die needlessly for an essentially identical outcome”.

“Russia has 3 times the population of Ukraine, so victory for Ukraine is unlikely in total war. If you care about the people of Ukraine, seek peace,” he posted on Twitter.

Also read: Ukraine claws back more territory Russia is trying to absorb

In February, when Ukraine’s internet was disrupted as the conflict began, Musk responded to a tweet by a Ukrainian government official seeking help. Musk said SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was available in Ukraine and that SpaceX was sending more terminals to the country.

“SpaceX’s out of pocket cost to enable & support Starlink in Ukraine is $80M so far. Our support for Russia is $0. Obviously, we are pro Ukraine,” Musk posted on Twitter later on Monday.

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