Elon Musk’s tweets saying that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia and proposing a referendum in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine have provoked a firestorm of criticism from Ukraine and its supporters — and nods of appreciation in Moscow.

Musk enjoyed until now a hero status in Ukraine because Starlink terminals — from one of his companies, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX — have played a critical role in maintaining the country’s communications during the war with Russia. Starlink terminals are deployed on hundreds of Ukrainian military outposts around the front lines, allowing commanders to call in artillery strikes and to coordinate operations in areas where mobile-phone services are disabled or jammed by Russia.