Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed admiration for tech magnate Elon Musk, commending his contributions to the space transportation sector through his company, SpaceX. This acknowledgement from Putin follows recent revelations made by Musk, in which he disclosed declining a Ukrainian appeal last year to activate his Starlink satellite communication network in the Russian-annexed Crimean port city of Sevastopol, citing concerns about involvement in a significant military conflict.
During an economic forum in Russia’s Far East, Putin refrained from addressing the Starlink controversy directly but spoke highly of Musk’s accomplishments in rocket launches through SpaceX. Putin stated, “As far as private business and Elon Musk is concerned… he is undoubtedly an outstanding person. This must be recognised, and I think it is recognised all over the world. He is an active and talented businessman and he is succeeding a lot, including with the support of the American state.”
Furthermore, Putin offered his defence of former US President Donald Trump, emphasising the multiple legal cases Trump is currently facing. According to Putin, these charges reveal flaws within the American political system, characterising them as “persecution of a political rival for political motives.”
Trump confronts various criminal cases in the United States, including federal charges in Washington, DC, related to alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, state charges in Georgia for election interference, and federal charges in Florida for the alleged mishandling of classified documents following his White House departure.
Earlier this month, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, known for his hawkish stance on Ukraine and potential conflicts with the West, also praised Musk’s actions concerning Starlink, Crimea, and Ukraine’s military forces on Musk’s social media platform, previously known as Twitter.
Medvedev hailed Musk as “the last rational mind in North America.” While Ukrainian officials have criticised Musk’s decision to safeguard the Russian fleet from potential attacks, US Democratic Party Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for a congressional investigation into Musk’s actions.
SpaceX, under Musk’s leadership, secured a contract from the US Department of Defense to provide Starlink satellite communication services to Ukraine. Russia, having annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, bases its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, employing it to impose blockades on Ukrainian ports since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The Russian fleet has also launched cruise missiles at Ukrainian civilian targets, prompting retaliatory actions from Kyiv, including the use of maritime drones.
Musk, in a recent post, disclosed his refusal to comply with Ukraine’s emergency request to activate Starlink to Sevastopol, emphasising that such an action would have been tantamount to explicit complicity in a major act of war and escalation of the conflict.