5719 Kremlin welcomes Elon Musk proposal for Ukraine settlement denounced by Kyiv

Kremlin welcomes Elon Musk proposal for Ukraine settlement denounced by Kyiv

MOSCOW — The Kremlin praised Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday for suggesting a possible peace deal to end the war in Ukraine, after Kyiv rebuked Musk for proposing terms it views as rewarding Russia.

“It is very positive that somebody like Elon Musk is looking for a peaceful way out of this situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call.

“Compared to many professional diplomats, Musk is still searching for ways to achieve peace. And achieving peace without fulfilling Russia’s conditions is absolutely impossible,” he added.

In a Twitter poll posted on Monday, the Tesla boss proposed Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia, that new referendums be held under U.N. auspices to determine the fate of Russian-controlled territory, and that Ukraine agree to neutrality.

Kyiv says it will never agree to cede land taken by force, and lawful referendums cannot be held in occupied territory where many people have been killed or driven out. After Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces last week, Kyiv said it was applying to join NATO, and would not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin is president.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded to Musk’s proposal with his own Twitter poll asking: “Which @elonmusk do you like more? One who supports Ukraine (or) one who supports Russia.”

As of Tuesday morning, Musk’s original poll had garnered more than 2.5 million votes, with some 60 percent opposed to the plan.

Peskov said on Tuesday that “bots” — phoney twitter accounts — were “actively participating in the voting”. He provided no evidence.

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Moscow had always been open to a negotiated end to the conflict, Peskov added. He criticized a new Ukrainian decree, signed by Zelenskiy on Tuesday, which says Kyiv will not negotiate directly with Putin for an end to the conflict.

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