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Ukraine trolls Elon Musk following his meme attack on Volodymyr Zelensky

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and owner of Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. — Reuters

Ukrainian parliament session on Monday saw backlash over SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s recent meme on social media, mocking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s requests for military support from the West.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February of last year, Musk’s SpaceX has occasionally infuriated Kyiv with his words, despite the fact that Musk’s Starlink satellite communication services are essential for Ukraine’s defensive effort.

Early on Monday, Musk posted a meme on his platform X, formerly known as Twitter, showing Zelensky with the caption: “When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t asked for a billion dollars in aid.”

Throughout the war, the Ukrainian president and his closest lieutenants have pleaded with their friends for billions of dollars in military assistance to fend off and repel Russia’s invasion.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, responded to Musk’s remark with his own post on X.

“The case when… (Elon Musk) tried to conquer space, but something went wrong and in 5 minutes he was up to his eyeballs in shit,” an apparent reference to SpaceX’s failed rocket launch in April.

Ukraine’s parliament, on its official page on X, accused Musk of spreading Russian propaganda, posting its own version of the meme with a picture of Musk and the caption: “When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t spread Russian propaganda”.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, who has criticised some of Musk’s statements in the past, said in a post on X that being silent or ironic about Ukraine played into the hands of Russian propaganda.

“Unfortunately, not everyone and not always, while being significant media figures, but being thousands of kilometres away from the war’s epicenter, is able to realize what the daily bombardments and cries of children losing their parents are.”

Ukrainian officials criticised Musk earlier in the war for suggesting that they should consider giving up land for peace, a position that Kyiv has staunchly rejected, Reuters reported.

Zelensky visited the US in September and met top officials in a bid to secure further aid. Over the weekend, aid for Ukraine was omitted from a stopgap funding measure passed by US Congress to avert a US government shutdown.

The US has been the largest single donor to Ukraine since Russia’s full invasion last year, giving tens of billions of dollars in military and financial aid.



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