Lindsey Graham’s feud with Elon Musk over ‘dumb’ Ukraine-Russia solution takes a creepy turn

Billionaire Elon Musk’s controversial Ukraine take didn’t just rub the Ukrainians the wrong way — it also rubbed Sen. Lindsey Graham the wrong way as well.

As previously reported, on Monday the billionaire posted several tweets promoting a peaceful end to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

His solution specifically called for Ukraine to cede Crimea by default and hold new, U.N.-supervised elections for the other areas that Russia claims as its own.

The tweets enraged the Ukrainians, who feel that the only valid end result is for the Russians to lose the war.

It appears the tweets also upset Graham as well. In a Twitter thread posted Wednesday, the South Carolina senator admonished Musk’s plan, calling it “dumb,” and also threatened to pull Tesla’s electric-vehicle tax credit.

Look:

Note the threat he posted at the end: “While we’re at it, maybe the Congress should revisit the electric vehicle tax credit boondoggle.”

The problem is Musk supports eliminating the credit.

“Tesla is successful currently in spite of our competitors having materially greater tax advantages than Tesla — in spite of it, not because of it,” he said in an interview recorded over the summer.

“If you eliminated all EV incentives tomorrow, Tesla’s competitive position would improve significantly. I’ll say that again, if you eliminated all…EV tax credits, Tesla’s position would improve immediately.”

Listen:

A lawmaker’s bullying threat to wield his power over the CEO of a company is creepy no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

Graham did have a point though about the Budapest Memorandum.

“In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and Britain committed ‘to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine‘ and ‘to refrain from the threat or use of force’ against the country,” according to a Brookings Institution report published in 2019.

“Unfortunately, Russia has broken virtually all the commitments it undertook in that document. It used military force to seize, and then illegally annex, Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in early 2014. Russian and Russian proxy forces have waged war for more than five years in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, claiming more than 13,000 lives and driving some two million people from their homes.”

But Musk had a point as well.

Responding to Graham’s tweets, he argued that “the will of the people matters,” and the people in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas have been avid supporters of Russia for over a decade now.

Look:

Indeed, this support is what ultimately led to Russia annexing Crimea.

What happened is that Ukraine elected a Russian-friendly president to office in 2010. But four years later in 2014, the country experienced a Western-backed coup that led to said president, Viktor Yanukovych, being ousted from power.

Amid Yanukovych’s ouster, the Russian-friendly residents in Crimea and the Donbas region began protesting, prompting Russia to invade Crimea and annex it, much to the reported happiness of its citizens.

“In 2014, we recorded a massive post-referendum euphoria among those we spoke to,” two Politico contributors reported in May.

(Source: Politico)

That being said, when the contributors recently visited the region again, they were confronted by a vastly different attitude.

“In our recent round of surveying, we asked our participants whether their feelings toward Russia and Russian politics had changed since 2014, and if so, in which direction? We asked how they felt about the war, and how they see Crimea’s future as well as their own,” the contributors write.

“Despite the fact that half of them expressed fears over voicing their real opinions in the face of new censorship laws in Russia, we were still able to capture their growing negativity and dissatisfaction with Russian politics and the Russian president — a dramatic shift from just eight years ago.”

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Vivek Saxena

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