Elon Musk has claimed that there is no “significant” Ukrainian resistance movement in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, sparking a furious response from partisans who have been wreaking havoc behind enemy lines since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Speaking in an online discussion on X on Monday, the billionaire claimed that those currently living in occupied areas of Ukraine would actually “vote to be part of Russia.”
To back up his argument, he added: “One has to ask why there is not a significant insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
“If they are so against being part of Russia you would expect to see a significant insurgency and you just don’t see that.”
“So, I think the reality is at least some parts of eastern Ukraine and Crimea actually wish to be part of Russia,” he said.
As well as glossing over a years-long campaign to Russify areas of Ukraine occupied since 2014, Musk also appeared to ignore the overwhelming evidence of a significant partisan and insurgent movement that has only escalated since February of last year.
Kyiv Post reached out to several Ukrainian partisan groups to ask them what they thought of Musk’s comments.
One, Mariupol Resistance, responded in no uncertain terms with a phrase that roughly translates into English as: “We would pull his eyes to his ass. No conversation. [Ми йому б глаз на дупу натягнули. Без розмов].”
Ukrainian resistance movements are highly active in Russian-occupied Ukraine and have scored numerous major successes in recent months.
Their activities are coordinated by a special branch of the Ukrainian military called the National Resistance Center (NRC), established in February 2022 in the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Perhaps most notably, partisans played a key role in two devastating missile strikes on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) during September, recruiting Russian servicemen who then relayed information about the location of both ships and top BSF personnel.
Several ships and a submarine were destroyed and the BSF HQ in Sevastopol was later hit in a strike that may have killed the BSF commander himself.
Elsewhere, partisans are highly active in Mariupol where, according to reports, more than 40 Russian officers have been poisoned to death.
Partisans also conduct crucial reconnaissance. Just last week a group infiltrated Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Airfield, exposing a hideout for Russian fighter jets.
Another partisan group, Yellow Ribbon which is active in Crimea, described Musk’s comments as “groundless.”
They told Kyiv Post: “There is resistance on the temporarily occupied territories (TOT) – both active guerrilla and non-violent resistance.
“We have a huge amount of resistance materials from the inhabitants of the TOT, each ribbon, poster, graffiti, burned newspaper, poster is proof of the resistance of the inhabitants of the TOT.
“From Donetsk to Crimea, people resist the occupiers, even after 9 years of occupation, they know that Donbas and Crimea are Ukraine.”
During the online discussion between Musk and his venture capitalist and friend David Sacks, he also insisted Ukraine should “normalise” relations with Russia despite the country having launched an illegal and unprovoked invasion.
He said: “We should stop sacrificing the flower of Ukrainian youth in trenches pointlessly and do and, and, and do a ceasefire and, and begin the process of renormalization relations with Russia.”
Musk – who grew up in South Africa – added: “I mean, they're, they're quite literally cousins, Ukraine had family in Russia. People in Russia have family in Ukraine.
“So like what, what I'm trying to say is that these are not natural adversaries, they had their grievances, but they, they are, you're quite literally family and, and I think we in the West are sort of pushing them to kill their, their sons.”
“And, and it seems wrong to me to do that to add to the, the, the regional tragedy there is the civilizational risk that we are brewing by making Russia a pariah to the West.”
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