Musk challenges Putin to 'single combat,' 'advanced in tech but innocent in politics'
Published: Mar 15, 2022 08:26 PM
Elon Musk. Photo: VCG

Elon Musk. Photo: VCG

Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has once again attracted the world's attention due to a recent post. The world's richest man challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to a "single combat'' for Ukraine on Twitter.

Musk's post has added a special chapter to the escalating Ukraine crisis, as the major two sides - Russia and Ukraine - are expected to resume the fourth round of peace talks, which took a technical pause until Tuesday. 

With 77.8 million followers on Twitter, Musk said in a Monday post that "I hereby challenge Владимир Путин (Putin's Russian name) to single combat." He tagged the Kremlin's official account in a follow-up post, asking in Russian "Do you agree to the fight?" 

Musk did not clarify what category of combat would be involved, strength of body, or factors involving technology and politics.

Musk's Tweets have received more than 306,000 likes and 33,000 comments, among which are Russian and Ukrainian officials. But no reaction has come from the Kremlin so far.

Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Russian space agency Roscosmos, responded in Russian "You, little devil, are still young. Compete with me, weakling; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first."

Ukrainian Vice Premier Minister Mykhailo Fedorov showed support to Musk, saying "I am sure that @elonmusk can send Putin to Jupiter." Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko also showed his support for Musk. 

When a follower asked if the eccentric billionaire had thought the challenges through, Musk claimed that he was "absolutely serious."

But some Twitter users said Musk's remark was so weird that he must have been drunk. 

"I need some of what you're drinking, brother," said a netizen. Another one said, "I think he's smoking weed again."

Some netizens said that fight would be over in 10 seconds, as Musk is 19 years younger (Musk is 50 years old while Putin is 69). However, "the man [Putin] has a black belt in Judo, not sure if that's a good idea Elon," another said.

There are others who were unhappy with Musk's "antics," calling him a "pathetic clown." "These people are joking around about UFC fights while kids are being slaughtered," said a netizen.

"Taking Ukraine as a stake? Is he in a position to gamble with others' country?" asked a Chinese netizen. "Does he want to run for president in 2024?"

Before "picking a fight" with Putin, Musk was actually taking an offensive posture to US President Joe Biden, as he called Biden "a damp sock puppet in human form" on Twitter in January, as Tesla stock plummeted by 11 percent, Forbes said. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the unrealistic challenge shows that Musk, a maverick, has not shed his political correctness in alignment with the US government amid the Ukraine crisis.

Musk has been sending Starlink broadband technology to Ukraine since the escalation of the crisis, staving off the internet disruption in Ukraine. 

By using Starlink, the US and Musk have actually shown Putin the advantage in this new technology, which may be a signal of forcing Russia to back down, Li said.   

As for the single combat on Putin, "let's just say Musk's understanding of the complexities of international politics is far less than Putin's, again reflecting his innocence in this regard," Li said. 

Responding to Musk's social network jest, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in his Telegram channel that he would not advise Musk to compete with Putin, as the fight will make Putin look "unsportsmanlike" when facing a weaker opponent. He said Musk is a businessman and blogger while Putin is a world politician and strategist.