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Zelenskyy invites Elon Musk to visit Ukraine: 'After that, you will tell us how to end this war'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 11/30/2022 cdavis@insider.com (Charles R. Davis,Britney Nguyen)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with Andrew Ross Sorkin during The New York Times DealBook Summit in the on November 30, 2022 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images © Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with Andrew Ross Sorkin during The New York Times DealBook Summit in the on November 30, 2022 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Elon Musk should visit his country to understand the war.
  • "If you want to understand what Russia has done here, come to Ukraine and you will see this with your own eyes," he said.
  • The comments came after Musk earlier proposed a peace agreement criticized for favoring Russia.

Early on, Elon Musk played an important role in helping Ukraine resist Russia's full-scale invasion of the country, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday. With the help of the US government, Musk provided Starlink satellite internet receivers that ensured troops could communicate in the face the Kremlin's electronic and conventional warfare.

"And this is very important," Zelenskyy, speaking through a video link, told people attending a conference hosted by The New York Times, "because at some point... it seems Elon began to change his opinion and we began to hear all kinds of appeals."

In October, Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, posted a tweet outlining what he described as a plan for "Ukraine-Russia Peace." Under the proposal, areas of Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia would take part in internationally monitored elections on their future status; Crimea, which Moscow occupied in 2014, would become "formally part of Russia" (Musk described its ever being part of Ukraine as a "mistake"); and Ukraine would agree to remain politically "neutral" going forward.

Critics, including Ukrainian officials, panned the proposal as favoring Russian interests at at time when the Kremlin was actually losing the war that it started. It also came, according to political analyst Ian Bremmer, after Musk confided that he had recently spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a claim Musk later denied, asserting that he had "spoken to Putin only once" in the last 18 months and that the subject matter was "space."

Musk has also angered Ukrainian officials by suggesting he would no longer pay for their Starlink service, which has suffered "catastrophic" outages in some occupied parts of the country in an apparent effort to limit offensive operations that some argue could escalate the conflict, such as an attempt to retake the Crimean peninsula.

The US government has paid SpaceX for at least 1,330 Starlink terminals and covered costs to deliver them to Ukraine, according to the Washington Post. Starlink is hiking the cost of its terminals and monthly internet service fees in Ukraine.  

Speaking on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said he did not know why the billionaire had shifted from steadfast to erratic support for Ukraine.

"I don't know if somebody is making an influence on him or if he is making those choices himself," Zelenskky said. The Ukrainian president added that he would invite Musk and others to see the war firsthand before opining on how to end it.

"I always say very openly, if you want to understand what Russia has done here, come to Ukraine and you will see this with your own eyes without any extra words. And after that, you will tell us how to end this war, who started it, and when we can end it," Zelenskky said.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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