Musk Says Putin Can’t Lose in Ukraine, Opposes Senate Bill

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(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk told US Republican senators “there is no way in hell” that Russian President Vladimir Putin could lose the war on Ukraine, weighing in on a conflict that has been affected by Musk’s own Starlink satellite services.

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Musk, the billionaire chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., made the comments in a forum Monday on X Spaces, part of his X social media platform. The discussions included opponents of a Senate bill that would provide further assistance for Ukraine to continue battling the full-scale Russian invasion that began two years ago.

He was joined by Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, JD Vance of Ohio and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as Vivek Ramaswamy, a former Republican presidential candidate, and David Sacks, a co-founder of Craft Ventures LLC.

Musk’s comments came as he agreed with Johnson’s statement that Putin would not lose in Ukraine. Johnson said those who expect a Ukraine victory were “living in a fantasy world.”

“We gotta kill this thing,” Vance said of the $95 billion measure, which includes $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine as well as funding for Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Musk added he hoped Americans would contact their elected representatives about the Ukraine bill. “This spending does not help Ukraine. Prolonging the war does not help Ukraine.”

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Musk has expressed similar sentiments before on X, doubting Ukraine’s ability to win the war and mocking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s requests for aid. The tech mogul has come under criticism from Ukraine and Democratic members of Congress.

Musk said there was pressure on Putin to see the fight through. “If he were to back off, he would be assassinated,” Musk said.

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Musk told the senators he’s sometimes accused of being a Putin apologist, but said that accusation was “absurd.” He said his companies “have probably done more to undermine Russia than anything.”

He cited SpaceX providing Starlink internet service to Ukraine, which has been critical to the nation’s communications after Russia invaded, as well as SpaceX taking business away from Russia’s space launch business.

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His views contrast strongly with President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who argue that aiding Ukraine’s defense against the Kremlin is in America’s interests and will help deter other autocrats from starting wars of their own.

The Senate continued work on the bill late Monday night, and it was expected to pass, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has insisted border security measures must come first.

Musk said his interest is in stopping the deaths of people on both sides of the war, adding he doubted the wisdom of seeking Putin’s ouster.

“For those who want regime change in Russia, they should think about who is the person that could take out Putin, and is that person likely to be a peacenik? Probably not.”

Musk said such a person would likely be “even more hardcore than Putin.”

(Updates with context and new quotes.)

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