Elon Musk mocked by Ukraine’s parliament over tweet taunting Zelensky

Elon Musk  (AP)
Elon Musk (AP)

Ukraine's parliament and its speaker have taunted billionaire Elon Musk after he posted a meme on his social media platform mocking President Volodymyr Zelensky's pleas for assistance from the West against Vladimir Putin's forces.

Musk owns SpaceX, which provides Starlink satellite communication services that are vital for Ukraine's defence effort, but his statements have sometimes angered Kyiv since the full-scale invasion launched by Russia in February last year.

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

The Ukrainian leader and his top lieutenants have appealed to their allies throughout the war to secure billions of pounds of military aid to weather and push back Russia's invasion.

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, hit out at Musk's jibe 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 s***," 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 epicentre, 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.

Zelensky visited the United States 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 Congress in Washington to avert a US government shutdown.

Washington 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.

Although right-wing Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump have increasingly called for funding of Ukraine to be halted, President Joe Biden's administration says it expects the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a measure to keep the aid flowing.

On Sunday, Biden pressed congressional Republicans to back the aid, saying he was "sick and tired" of the political brinkmanship that had nearly closed the government down.

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Monday that Kyiv was still confident of US backing.

"We don't feel that the US support has been shattered... because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine," he said.

He added that what happened in the US Congress at the weekend was just "an incident".

"We have a very in-depth discussion with both parts of the Congress – Republicans and Democrats," he said.