Ukrainians and Russians turn to Twitter memes about Elon Musk, but this time the tone is no longer humorous

Screenshot from Newscom.au YouTube channel showing how Elon Musk is being covered on billboards celebrating foreign celebrities who have helped Ukraine during the war. Fair use.

Business magnate Elon Musk has managed to not only anger Western audiences by proposing his provocative Ukraine (and later Taiwan) peace deals, but Russian and Ukrainian Twitter users as well.

On Russophone Twitter, memes with Elon Musk are not something new:  they have traditionally mocked ridiculous “inventions.” For example, this tweet says: “Road holes in Kaluga city were filled with freshly cut grass. How do you like this, Elon Musk?”

However, the tweet where Musk proposes his own version of a Ukraine–Russia peace deal caused a flood of criticism in the West, as well as on Russophone Twitter; the only exception that has applauded Musk is the Kremlin.

The new Elon Musk memes are critical

Most comments, whether they come from Ukrainians or from Russians who oppose Putin, are indeed critical of Musk's statements. For instance, in relation to the Russian mobilization, a user tweets a photo that says “In St. Petersburg, mobilization summons await those who visit the hospitals,” and he asks “How do you like this [invention], Elon Musk?”

This Ukrainian Twitter user refers to a video of billboard censorship in Odesa:

“In Odesa, they are washing off the photo of Elon Musk from the billboard. It was put there before because of the Ukrainian gratitude for his support. Reminder: earlier, Elon Musk proposed to give the Crimea to Russia and hold “referendums” under the supervision of UN representatives.”

A member of the Russian opposition, Miсhael Nacke, who runs his own anti-war YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers, suggests that Musk might have bought Putin’s narratives about the war:

“So, Musk has listened to the bullshit that Putin said, which was what the Russian TV anchor Vladimir Soloviev uses in his propaganda all the time. And he immediately believed it. And Russians have been listening to this shit for over 23 years.”

Other users agree with him and joke that it seems Putin (who is known for disliking the internet and  social media) now has an account on Twitter.

“Putin has opened a Twitter account, but it is managed by Elon Musk.”

Many users are overall utterly disappointed with Musk.

“Elon Musk. Expectation: space exploration, man on Mars, Martian bases. Reality: Pro-Kremlin Twitter Shitposting”

Others make an ironic suggestion: “Please do not repost this photo. Elon Musk hates it!”

Ukrainian accounts often have a darker tone when pointing at Musk, recycling the previously humorous sign: ” How do you like this, Elon Musk?”  This Twitter meme, once funny, is now representing grievous scenes from the war-torn country.

“How do you like this, Elon Musk?”

The user reposting a video from TikTok, in one of the underground shelters where children who hid there were dancing and singing together with their teacher, sums it up: “How do you like this, Elon Musk? Ukrainians are unbreakable!”

One user also reused an older Musk meme to post this: “Please somebody tell Elon Musk that the Nobel Prize has already been awarded this year.  He needs to wait till next March,” after the news broke that Musk had also suggested a deal with Taiwan.

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