Elon Musk has changed in stature this year.
The whimsical and charismatic CEO of Tesla (TSLA) has broken down the wall erected between the bosses of big companies and the political world.
He broke down this wall without worrying about the tradition that executives do not give their political opinions to avoid offending the opposing camp.
This wall was very long on the international scene, especially for large companies which are often forced to remain silent in the face of policies contrary to the values they defend. This silence allows them to stay in key markets and secure a significant source of income.
The billionaire surprisingly lent his support to Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.
Words and Actions
"Hold Strong Ukraine," the tech tycoon posed on Twitter on March 4.
He accompanied this support with actions a few days later. The tech tycoon and his aerospace company SpaceX had agreed to provide Ukraine with a key service as the country's communications infrastructure was destroyed by the Russian military.
This service is Starlink which is a secure internet access via satellite. Starlink has become the revelation of this Russia-Ukraine war which has already killed thousands and displaced millions more.
Starlink is the only remaining communication system for the Ukrainian armed forces on the front.
"Starlink is only comms system still working at warfront – others all dead," he said on Oct. 14. "Russia is actively trying to kill Starlink. To safeguard, SpaceX has diverted massive resources towards defense. Even so, Starlink may still die."
This made the service a target of Russian cyberattacks, increasing the cost and losses for SpaceX, which finances part of the antennas provided to Ukraine.
Faced with mounting losses, Musk recently threatened to cut the service if the U.S. government, which also supports Ukraine through NATO, did not provide some funding. The billionaire later withdrew this request after the controversy it had sparked.
"The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free," he announced on Twitter on Oct. 15.
'Top Private Donor'
He also reaffirmed his support for Ukraine after his peace initiative in early October earned him fierce criticism from Ukrainians. This peace plan asked Ukraine to relinquish to Russia its region of Crimea annexed by the Russians in 2014. In addition, Ukraine was to no longer seek to become a member of NATO and the European Union, two organizations that Russia regards as threats to its sovereignty.
The peace plan resembled Russian demands. The billionaire may have explained that this plan was based on reality and that it was realistic, the damage was done. He nevertheless succeeded in repairing part of the bond forged with the Ukrainians.
But Musk is, and remains, according to Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, one of the very first individual supporters of Ukraine.
"Definitely @elonmusk is among the world's top private donors supporting Ukraine," Fedorov, said on Oct. 14. "Starlink is an essential element of our critical infrastructure."
Still, Musk's detractors and critics believe his support for Ukraine is driven by his inflated ego. They argue that the popularity of the serial entrepreneur has greatly increased since and that it has allowed him to cultivate an image of atypical CEO. Criticisms to which the billionaire has also responded.
"Starlink is the primary communications system of the Ukrainian army on the war front. If anyone else wants this job, please be my guest …" he said on Oct. 14.
'Why Help Funding' Ukraine?
He has just revealed himself why he supports Ukraine when none of his companies have a particular interest in the country.
It all started with a thread on Twitter in which he explained that Russia would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if it ever faced a crushing defeat.
"If Russia faced calamitous defeat in conventional warfare for something as strategically critical as Crimea, the probability of using nuclear weapons is high," he wrote on Oct. 21.
"Why help fund the conflict then?" a Twitter user asked him.
"Russia overrunning Ukraine would destabilize the entire region, perhaps the world," the billionaire responded.
Basically for Musk, it was out of concern for the consequences this conflict may have for humanity that he offered his services. The billionaire, who is on a mission to revolutionize civilization as we know it today, says he fears that the Russia-Ukraine war will turn into World War III.