Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky must avoid needlessly sending young Ukrainians to be slaughtered on the battlefield with Russia, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said. His comments come amid Kiev’s faltering counteroffensive, which Moscow claims has already left tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers dead.
Speaking in an interview with US podcaster Lex Fridman released on Friday, the tech billionaire was asked whether he believed Zelensky should negotiate peace with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Musk did not provide a straight answer, but noted he would “just recommend [that Zelensky] do not send the flower of Ukrainian youth to die in trenches,” regardless of whether he engages with Putin or not.
“Whoever goes on the offensive will lose massive numbers of people and history will not look kindly upon them,” he added.
The Tesla CEO has weighed in on the hostilities between Moscow and Kiev on numerous occasions, noting in September that the Ukrainian counteroffensive that began in early summer had brought “so much death for so little [gain].”
Musk previously floated a peace plan suggesting that Kiev should recognize Crimea as part of Russia, while the four former Ukrainian territories that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in referendums last autumn should redo the votes under UN supervision. The idea, however, sparked a backlash in Ukraine. Andrey Melnik, the country’s then-ambassador to Germany, told Musk to “f**k off.”
Moscow has repeatedly said it is open to talks with Kiev, although last autumn Zelensky signed a decree banning all negotiations with Russia as long as Putin remains in power. He reaffirmed this stance earlier this month, again ruling out any concessions to Moscow.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been underway since early June but has failed to gain any significant ground. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has estimated Kiev’s losses at more than 90,000 troops, while pointing to deteriorating morale in the Ukrainian military.
Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky, have admitted serious difficulties with the campaign, blaming them on delays in Western assistance, formidable Russian defenses, and Moscow’s air superiority. Earlier this month, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, acknowledged that Kiev’s troops were unlikely to achieve a “deep and beautiful breakthrough” unless they gained a technological edge over Russia.