Elon Musk has shut down a report which suggested he spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin before making controversial comments about the invasion of Ukraine.
Last week the Tesla CEO suggested that Crimea, which is Ukrainian territory under international law, be formally recognised as part of Russia.
Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 while the world was focused on the Winter Olympics in Sochi and subsequently annexed the territory.
Mr Musk also suggested fresh elections should be held in territories that were militarily seized by Russian forces this year — supervision by the United Nations — with “Russia [to leave] if that is the will of the people.”
His suggestions were rebuked by Ukraine, which is fighting back against the brutal Russian invasion and has vowed not to negotiate after Russia annexed four occupied Ukrainian regions following a sham referendum.
He also suggested that Ukraine should remain a neutral country. Ukraine officially applied to join NATO this year.
This morning, Eurasia Group — a political risk consultancy group — claimed Elon Musk spoke to Mr Putin before tweeting about his Ukraine peace plan, Vice reported.
Political scientist Ian Bremmer reportedly stated in a mailout to Eurasia Group subscribers that Mr Musk had told him Mr Putin was “prepared to negotiate” but only if certain preconditions were met.
These include that Crimea must be recognised as part of Russia, that Ukraine accepted a form of permanent neutrality, and that Ukraine recognise Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Mr Musk said that Mr Putin told him these goals would be accomplished “no matter what” and warned of a nuclear strike if Ukrainian forces pushed south into Crimea, Mr Bremmer reportedly claimed.
The reported conversation matched closely to the suggestion he publicly made last week.
But Mr Musk, the world’s richest man with an estimated net worth of about $300 billion (US$219 billion), has shut down the report he spoke with Mr Putin recently.
Mr Musk was asked on Twitter, the social media platform he is in the process of acquiring, “Hi [Elon Musk[, is this true?”
Mr Musk replied: “No, it is not. I have spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago. The subject matter was space.”
Musk also recently suggested that Taiwan should become a “special administrative zone” of China.
The suggestion was met with furious backlash, with the billionaire accused of throwing Taiwan “under the bus”.