The Kremlin has praised Tesla boss Elon Musk for suggesting a possible peace deal to end the war in Ukraine.
In a Twitter poll posted on Monday, the Tesla boss suggested Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia, that new referendums be held under UN auspices to determine the fate of Russian-controlled territory, and that Ukraine agree to neutrality.
That drew a furious response from Ukraine, with one diplomat even telling Musk to “f*** off”.
But the Kremlin, unsurprisingly, has taken a much warmer approach to his proposals.
“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.
Earlier, Ukraine had fired back at Musk for his suggestions on social media.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky followed up with a Twitter poll of his own, asking his followers which Elon Musk they preferred: “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”
He also president ruled out the hope of any talks with President Putin, signing a decree, declaring any talks between Kyiv and Mr Putin “impossible.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany was far less diplomatic.
“The only outcome ist (sic) that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your f…ing tesla crap. So good luck to you,” Ambassador Andriy Melnyk wrote.
He added: “F*** off is my very diplomatic reply to you.”
Criticism of the billionaire though was not confined to Ukraine. Lithuania’s president also attacked Musk, as did US Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger.
“This idea reminds me of fourth grade social studies where we came up with a peace plan between USSR and USA. We thought that if Gorbachev and Reagan were forced to eat one dinner of American food and 1 of Russian, they would become friends. For reals,” he tweeted.
As of Tuesday morning, Musk’s original poll had garnered more than 2.5 million votes, with some 60 per cent opposed to his plan.
Peskov said on Tuesday that “bots” – phoney twitter accounts – were “actively participating in the voting”. He provided no evidence.