Kyiv is not happy with Elon Musk. Particularly, Ukrainian officials are upset that the billionaire entrepreneur had the audacity to post a meme targeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s continued demands for U.S. assistance.
One official said the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made a “direct investment in war, genocide, destruction of the free world, escalation, and the right to impunity.” Because of a meme.
The photograph showed a superimposed image of Zelenskyy’s face in a classroom with the caption: “When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t asked for a billion dollars in aid.”
Elon Musk has been criticized for posting a meme referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a caption mocking aid for the country. https://t.co/LNVXb9lszq
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) October 2, 2023
Ukrainian ambassador Mariana Betsa did not take kindly to the attempt at humor. Posting on X, Musk’s platform formerly known as Twitter she asked, “Elon, don’t you have empathy? Ukrainians are killed daily by Russia. We are fighting for our lives, for our families, for our country, for our freedom.”
Zelenskyy’s advisor Mykhailo Podolyak was more direct.
He blasted the meme as “a direct encouragement of Russian propaganda that justifies mass violence and destruction.”
Ukraine’s parliament also took a jab at Musk on X. On its official page, the state mimicked the billionaire’s post with a picture of Musk captioned: “When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t spread Russian propaganda.”
The fact that Musk’s Starlink satellite system provides crucial communication services to the Ukrainian military was conveniently overlooked.
The pointed criticism came at a time when U.S. support for tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in continued aid to Ukraine is wavering. Many do not want to see the country dragged down yet another rabbit hole of an endless war with no resolution in sight.
Aid for Ukraine was notably omitted from the stopgap government spending measure approved by Congress and signed by Biden Saturday night. Republicans were successful in forcing the expenditure to be separated from the push to keep the government functioning.
Musk also drew the wrath of Ukrainian officials earlier this year with his suggestion for peace.
The businessman suggested that Zelenskyy should consider surrendering land for an end to the war — a proposal that Kyiv has flatly rejected.
Striking out against Musk is a lesson in futility for Ukraine. Besides the fact that his Starlink service actively assists the war effort, addressing rampant corruption and a stalled counteroffensive are far more important objectives than denouncing a meme.