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Longer conflict strengthens Russia – Musk

The billionaire has repeatedly argued that protracted warfare will end in disaster for Ukraine

The longer the conflict in Ukraine drags on, “the better Russia will do,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes. The South African billionaire has been calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine since 2022, arguing that Kiev needs to accept its loss of territory to avoid further catastrophe.

Responding to news that Russian forces were advancing into the strategically important Donbass town of Avdeevka on Saturday, Musk wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “the longer this goes on, the better Russia will do.”

The Russian Defense Ministry announced the liberation of the town later on Saturday, after a panicked retreat that cost Ukrainian forces some 1,500 men in just 24 hours. With Avdeevka taken, the ministry said that Russian forces will continue their offensive to “further liberate the Donetsk People’s Republic from Ukrainian nationalists.”

Ukrainian and American officials have blamed the loss of the city on the drying up of Western aid, while the Pentagon warned on Friday that the situation in Avdeevka could soon be repeated in “many other locations along the forward line,” if American lawmakers fail to authorize a new $60 billion package of arms, ammo, and training for Kiev. 

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SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
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In addition to the ammunition shortage, Ukraine is also grappling with the loss of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. This “critical” manpower deficit could soon result in a collapse along the entire front, the Washington Post reported earlier this month. Long before, the recently-ousted commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military, General Valery Zaluzhny, warned that the conflict had reached a “stalemate,” and that Russia’s larger population and greater resources placed it at an advantage in a drawn-out fight.

Musk has also spoken extensively about the trajectory of the conflict. More than a year ago, the billionaire proposed that Kiev abandon its claim to Crimea, declare neutrality, and allow the four new Russian regions – Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – to hold fresh referendums on joining the Russian Federation. This proposal is similar to the terms offered by Russia to Kiev and the Western powers before the conflict began, except Moscow initially called only for autonomy in Donetsk and Lugansk.

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Ukrainian servicemen pile up sandbags to build a fortification near Avdeevka, Russia, February 17, 2024
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Musk has accused top US officials – most notably Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, known for her role in the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev – of “pushing this war.” On Saturday the Tesla mogul endorsed a post by American investor David Sacks, who argued that the conflict is “meat grinder” that will only end when Ukraine “lays in smoldering ruins on a funeral pyre of their own making.”

Despite favoring a ceasefire, Musk donated some 20,000 Starlink satellite internet terminals to Ukraine shortly after Russia launched its military operation in February 2022. However, Musk said last year that he had refused Kiev’s request to activate the service near Crimea, as doing so would allow the Ukrainian military to use Starlink to guide attack drones to Russian targets, making SpaceX “complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”

Musk has since leased his Starlink network to the Pentagon for military purposes.

February 19, 2024 at 02:13AM

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