Billionaire Challenges Putin

JD Lasica from Pleasanton, CA, US, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Will Putin back down?

On Monday (March 14), in a tweet to his 77.7 million Twitter followers, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to single combat with the wager being Ukraine.

Using a combination of Cyrillic script and English, Musk tweeted, “I hereby challenge Владимир Путин to single combat. “Stakes are Україна.”

The tweet translates to “I hereby challenge Vladimir Putin to single combat. Stakes are Ukraine.”

In a follow-up tweet, Musk tags the official Kremlin Twitter account asking in Cyrillic if Putin would agree to fight.

Since posting on Monday, the tweet has garnered hundreds of thousands of likes and thousands of replies; among those who responded is the director general for Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.

Rogozin replied saying, “You, little devil, are still young. Compete with me weakling; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first.”

Rogozin also cited the 17th-century folk tale “The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda,” written by Russian poet A.S. Pushkin. The fairytale tells the story of a lazy orthodox priest who hires a simpleton to do cheap labor. The laborer ends up outsmarting the priest, eventually driving the priest crazy.

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov also responded to Musk’s tweets, tagging the Tesla CEO, saying he was sure Musk “can send Putin to Jupiter.”

Fedorov’s tweets come as the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister has been conducting a fundraiser to send Putin into space for weeks, of which he said the proceeds would go to repairing and rebuilding damaged Ukrainian infrastructure.

Musk’s tweets come as Russian dignitaries hold talks with Ukrainian dignitaries.

The SpaceX CEO has been sending SpaceX Starlink terminals to Ukraine to alleviate internet disruptions in Ukraine amid cyberattacks and shelling by Russia.

His support came after Fedorov tweeted at Musk two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 24, stating, “while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also thanked Musk for “supporting Ukraine with words and deeds” by sending the Starlink’s and keeping Ukraine connected to the internet.