The Kremlin has responded to Elon Musk's bizarre challenge to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The tech billionaire directly called out the Russian leader in a post on Twitter by typing out Putin’s name using the Russian alphabet.
“I hereby challenge Владимир Путин [Vladimir Putin] to single combat,” he wrote.
Musk then added: “Stakes are Україна [Ukraine],” also writing out the country’s name in its own language.
I hereby challenge— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 14, 2022
to single combat
Stakes are Україна
About 20 minutes before volunteering to take on Putin, Musk also tweeted: “By the pricking of my thumbs.”
The line comes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and is used to allude to a sense of foreboding – followed in the play by the phrase: “Something wicked this way comes.”
Well, now the Kremlin has responded.
Musk's tweet received an almost immediate response from the head of the Russia's space agency Roscosmos.
"You, little devil, are still young," said director general Dmitry Rogozin.
"Compete with me weakling; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first."
Rogozin then hit back with his own literary reference, citing Russian poet A. S. Pushkin's The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda.
Ты, бесенок, еще молоденек,— РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) March 14, 2022
Со мною тягаться слабенек;
Это было б лишь времени трата.
Обгони-ка сперва моего брата.
А. С. Пушкин "Сказка о Попе и работнике его Балде" https://t.co/KuR328iH20
Pushkin's story tells of a lazy Russian orthodox priest who elects a simpleton as a cheap labourer, but the supposed dummy then ends up outsmarting the priest and driving him crazy.
Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov chimed into the heated exchange between Musk and the head of Russia's cosmonaut agency by calling on the Tesla founder to send Putin to Jupiter.
"I am sure that @elonmusk can send Putin to Jupiter," Fedorov said.
The Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister has been running a fundraiser in recent weeks to launch the Russian president into space.
The proceeds from the fundraiser will actually go to repairing damaged Ukrainian infrastructure.
I am sure that @elonmusk can send Putin to Jupiter. https://t.co/bXxy7yaQxJ— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 14, 2022
The downright weird Twitter exchange comes in the wake of the tech billionaire supplying Ukraine with Starlink terminals after the Russian invasion knocked out large parts of the country's internet.
Areas with the least connectivity were also where fighting had been the heaviest.
Starlink is Musk's space-based satellite system that aims to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world.
The service is hard to disrupt by foreign influence, which means Russia is now unlikely to prevent Ukraine from communicating with the outside world.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.