Elon Musk often wields his Twitter account as a weapon — threatening to back out of his deal to buy Twitter or insulting President Joe Biden as a damp sock puppet “in human form.”
More recently, the world’s richest person veered into more treacherous geopolitical territory by offering head-scratching proposals to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and settle questions about Taiwan’s sovereignty. His tweets and other public comments have angered presidents and foreign ministers across Europe and, awkwardly, won praise from America’s rivals.
Now Musk is escalating again, putting his money where his mouth is: On Friday, he threatened to cut financial support for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet service in Ukraine, a move that would deny the country a key means of communication in the fight against Russian forces.
While Musk is hardly the first American business executive or celebrity to get tangled up in foreign policy, his wealth and penchant for mischief — not to mention his multibillion-dollar defense contracts — make him harder to ignore.
Asked in an email about criticism that his comments touch on sensitive diplomatic and geopolitical matters, Musk answered: “When did Bloomberg News become worthless trash?”
American diplomats are well-aware of Musk’s controversial comments, a State Department official said, discussing the situation on condition of anonymity, and they make clear to allies and close partners that the high-profile executive’s comments are those of a private citizen and don’t reflect the Biden administration’s thinking.