Putin praises Musk as ‘outstanding person’ days after report Tesla boss stopped Ukrainian attack

Billionaire refused Ukraine support for surprise attack on Russian naval vessels in Crimea

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 12 September 2023 21:47 BST

Related video: Elon Musk removed from billboards thanking westerners for supporting Ukraine

Vladimir Putin heaped praise on Elon Musk as he called the billionaire an “outstanding person” and businessman.

The Russian dictator complimented the Tesla CEO and X owner just days after Mr Musk said that he refused to let Ukraine use Starlink internet to launch a surprise attack on Russian forces in Crimea.

The revelation was made in excerpts of a new biography on the South African-born entrepreneur that he had refused Ukraine support for a September 2022 attack on Russian naval vessels in Sevastopol.

Mr Musk reportedly refused as he did not want to be complicit in a “major” act of war, and has been heavily criticised by Ukraine’s leadership.

Mr Putin was not asked about the incident during an economic forum in Vladivostok but spoke about the rocket launching success of Mr Musk’s SpaceX company.

“As far as private business and Elon Musk is concerned... he is undoubtedly an outstanding person. This must be recognised, and I think it is recognised all over the world,” he said.

“He (Musk) is an active and talented businessman and he is succeeding a lot, including with the support of the American state.”

In this photo released by Roscongress Foundation, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023.

Last October, Mr Musk was forced to deny a report that he had spoken to Mr Putin about Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.

Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group political risk consultancy, had claimed that Mr Musk personally told him about the conversation with Mr Putin.

“I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space,” Mr Musk tweeted.

FILE - Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition, March 9, 2020, in Washington.

It came the same month Mr Musk asked his social media followers to vote on ways to resolve the bloody conflict.

The suggestions included holding votes in Russian-annexed areas of Ukraine, an idea welcomed by the Kremlin.

He also suggested that the rest of the world should “formally” recognise Crimea, which was illegally occupied by Moscow in 2014, as part of Russia.

In response, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky posted his own poll asking users if they liked the world’s richest person more when he supported Ukraine.

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