Technology mogul Elon Musk allegedly spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin around two weeks ago regarding a negotiated end to the Russia-Ukraine war, according to the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer, the Daily Caller News Foundation has confirmed.
Bremmer claimed Musk told him the Tesla CEO had communicated with Putin roughly two weeks prior in a newsletter to Eurasia Group subscribers first reported by Vice on Tuesday, which the DCNF has obtained. Musk subsequently denied the conversation with Putin, which would have taken place prior to Musk advocating for controversial peace negotiations, had occurred.
Bremmer wrote: “I spoke with Elon two weeks ago, and he told me Putin (in a direct conversation with him) was ‘prepared to negotiate’ (much as I had heard from Shanghai cooperation organization members the week before) and had outlined the minimum the Russian president would require to end the war. There were three components: (1) Crimea remains Russian, (2) Ukraine accepts a formal status of neutrality, and (3) recognition of Russia’s annexations of Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson control for the water supply to Crimea, and Zaporizhzhia for the land bridge. Putin said these were goals he would accomplish “no matter what”—the alternative being major escalation. And further, if Zelensky invaded Crimea, Russia would retaliate with a nuclear strike on Ukraine. Elon said everything needed to be done to avoid that outcome.”
Russia’s volley of missile strikes on Ukraine in the past week, including hits to the embattled country’s capital city, sparked concerns Moscow could further escalate the war from the U.S. and its allies. Putin has resolved to absorb the self-declared independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
“Musk also appeared concerned about more direct threats from Putin. While he didn’t surface anything explicit with me, he did talk about Russian cyber capabilities and Russia’s potential to disrupt his satellites,” Bremmer wrote.
“I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space,” Musk responded when asked if the Vice report reflected actual events.
Hours after the Vice report was published, Bremmer later doubled down on his claims.
“Elon musk told me he had spoken with Putin and the Kremlin directly about Ukraine. he also told me what the Kremlin’s red lines were,” he said in a statement.
“I wasn’t planning on writing about this, but now that Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has gone public with his views on Russia/Ukraine, it feels important to write about what’s happening,” Bremmer said in prefacing the anecdote of his conversation with Musk, which comprised one section of a regular newsletter he distributes to Eurasia Group clients.
Musk had suggested that the West recognize Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory through revised elections under UN supervision in an Oct. 3 tweet, after the regions held referendums the West decried as “shams.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the proposal as anti-Ukraine, while the Kremlin welcomed it, Reuters reported.
“My response was to not take Putin at face value and that there was zero chance Ukraine could or the West would go for Putin’s “deal,” given the nature of the territory in dispute (which—excepting Crimea—wasn’t majority ethnic Russian), the war crimes committed, and the latest Ukrainian counteroffensive. It felt to me like Elon considered that a reasonable response,” Bremmer wrote to newsletter subscribers.
Musk has described himself as pro-Ukraine and donated his Starlink satellite internet to help Ukrainian forces stay connected. Ukrainian leaders thanked Musk at the time; however, Ukrainian forces have reported Starlink outages as they push further into territory previously taken by Russia, according to the Financial Times.
SpaceX and the Kremlin did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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