Fact Check: Russia's Putin And Elon Musk Did NOT Exchange Threats In September 2023

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Russia's Putin And Elon Musk Did NOT Exchange Threats In September 2023 No Threats

Did Vladimir Putin and American billionaire businessman Elon Musk exchange threats on September 14, 2023, when the Russian president warned that he would destroy internet cables in the Black Sea if Musk cut off Russia's cyberspace? No, that's not true. In Fact, Putin heaped praise on Musk in a speech to the plenary session of the 8th Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian Far East on September 12, 2023. "Elon Musk is certainly an outstanding person, it must be recognized, I think this is recognized all over the world. He is an energetic and talented businessman, and he is making a lot of things happen," Putin said, according to a text of his speech posted on the Kremlin's website.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) and posted on TikTok on September 20, 2023, under the title "Urgent: Hours ago, on the night of September 14, Elon Musk threatened Russia to cut off its internet".

The claim was made in an Arabic caption across the eight-second video. (Arabic captions were translated into English by Lead Stories' staff).

Another caption read:

Putin responded by saying: 'if you're man enough, do it, and I will burn down all the cables in the Black Sea to cut it (internet) off the whole world.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Putin And Musk exchange threats.jpg

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Sep 20 11:39:31 2023 UTC)

Putin's praise came five days after Musk revealed in a post on X, previously known as Twitter, on September 7, 2023, that he refused a Ukrainian request to activate his Starlink satellite network in Crimea's port city of Sevastopol in 2022 to aid an attack on Russia's fleet there. "If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation," Musk wrote.

Earlier this month, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, one of the most hawkish voices in the Kremlin when it comes to Ukraine and the potential for a widening conflict with the West, also took to the Musk-owned X social media platform, where he lauded Musk's actions regarding Starlink, Crimea and Ukraine's forces. Medvedev described Musk as "the last adequate mind in North America. Or, at the very least, in gender-neutral America, he is the one with the balls".

A Google news search performed by Lead Stories on September 20, 2023, using the following keywords: "Putin Musk exchange Internet threats," did not show any news reports on threats exchanged between Putin and Musk in September 2023.

  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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