Fiona Hill says Musk tweet ‘clearly is a message from Putin’

Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who served on the National Security Council under former President Trump, said billionaire Elon Musk was “transmitting a message” for Russian President Vladimir Putin when he tweeted out a proposal to end the war earlier this month.

Hill told Politico in an interview published Monday that before Musk tweeted out his so-called peace proposal earlier this month, he made a similar statement at a September event in Aspen, Colo., suggesting the Crimean Peninsula remain in Russian hands.

Musk also said then that control over the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions should be negotiated because Crimea would need water supplies from those regions, Hill noted.

“The reference to water is so specific that this clearly is a message from Putin,” she said.

Hill served as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019 and is now a senior fellow at Brookings.

She explained to Politico that Putin “often uses various trusted intermediaries including all kinds of businesspeople.”

“I had intermediaries sent to discuss things with me while I was in government,” she told Politico. “This is a classic Putin play. It’s just fascinating, of course, that it’s Elon Musk in this instance, because obviously Elon Musk has a huge Twitter following.”

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted out a poll asking his more than 100 million followers to weigh in on his peace proposal, which drew the rebuke of Ukrainian officials and U.S. lawmakers after the billionaire suggested Ukraine give up the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

He also suggested new elections be held under United Nations supervision in four recently annexed eastern regions: Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine has vowed to reclaim all of the illegally annexed territory.

Musk’s poll ended with 59 percent of users against and 40 percent in support with more than 2 million respondents.

Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of political consulting firm Eurasia Group, said last week that Musk told him he had spoken to Putin and knew what Russia’s red lines were. Musk replied that “nobody should trust Bremmer.”

“I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space,” Musk said in another tweet.

Last week, CNN reported that Musk has been floating the peace proposal at conferences for weeks, citing sources familiar with the matter, who also alleged Musk may have been in contact with the Kremlin.

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO also drew headlines last week when he threatened to pull his Starlink satellites, which are providing internet service to embattled Ukraine, out of the country because of the high cost. Musk later backed off from the idea and is reportedly discussing ongoing funding with the Pentagon.

Hill argued that Musk is merely a pawn in Putin’s game, noting that the billionaire is extremely popular in Russia.

“He’s got a longstanding reputation in Russia through Tesla, the SpaceX space programs and also through Starlink. He’s one of the most popular men in opinion polls in Russia,” she said.

“Putin plays the egos of big men, gives them a sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin,” she added.

Tags Elon Musk Elon Musk Fiona Hill Fiona Hill Russia SpaceX Tesla Trump Ukraine Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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