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Russian president Vladimir Putin hails Elon Musk as as an 'outstanding person' and businessman

Elon Musk gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, June 16, 2023.
Elon Musk gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. Copyright Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Copyright Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
By Reuters
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Putin made the comments at an event in Russia, just days after the Twitter/X boss said he refused to activate Starlink for a Ukrainian attack in Crimea.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hailed billionaire Elon Musk as an "outstanding person" and businessman whose SpaceX company had become a major player in the space transportation industry.

Putin's public praise of Musk comes days after the South African-born, US-based entrepreneur said he refused a Ukrainian request last year to activate his Starlink satellite network in Crimea's port city of Sevastopol to aid an attack on Russia's fleet there, saying he feared complicity in a "major" act of war.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev took to X (formerly Twitter) earlier this month to laud Musk over that decision - which has been sharply criticised by Ukrainian politicians - as "the last adequate mind in North America".

Putin, speaking at an economic forum in Russia's far east, did not refer to the Starlink incident. 

But when asked about the success of Musk's SpaceX company in launching rockets into space, he said: "As far as private business and Elon Musk is concerned... he is undoubtedly an outstanding person. This must be recognised, and I think it is recognised all over the world".

"He [Musk] is an active and talented businessman and he is succeeding a lot, including with the support of the American state," added Putin.

The Russian leader said Moscow planned to persevere with its own space programme despite the failure of a mission to the Moon last month.

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