I’m not too angry at the Russian government because 1) I already didn’t think too highly of the Russian government and 2) I know our government finances a lot of subversive activity over there. But it is important to know this when you hear confident claims against fracking—the new method of acquiring shale gas. According to the Telegraph,
Russia is secretly working with environmental groups campaigning against fracking in an attempt to maintain Europe’s dependence on energy imports from Moscow, the secretary-general of Nato has said.
Speaking at the Chatham House foreign affairs think-tank in London, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia was mounting a sophisticated disinformation campaign aimed at undermining attempts to exploit alternative energy sources such as shale gas.
He said: “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That is my interpretation.”
Mr Rasmussen did not say what form the Russians’ engagement with the environmentalists took or whether groups concerned were aware that they were dealing with Moscow’s agents.
Greenpeace claimed that Rasmussen’s accusations were “preposterous.” But I don’t see why. Oil exportation is extremely important to Russia’s financial well-being. Fracking is a game changer. They would have every incentive to support anti-fracking movements. To make their case against Rasmussen, Greenpeace pointed out Russia’s hostility to the organization. But just because the Russian government is hostile to Greenpeace doesn’t mean they are not useful to Russia in some areas. If Russia punishes Greenpeace for the policies they don’t like, and secretly funds (without Greenpeace’s knowledge) anti-fracking campaigning in other areas of the world, then they encourage the outcomes that they desire and discourage the other outcomes. It seems quite probable that Russia can send funds through private citizens so that Greenpeace never knows it is Russian money. Greenpeace claims that fracking will never make a big difference in European oil consumption, but that is debatable. “Greenpeace has detailed plans for energy policies which would remove the need for any Russian gas imports to Europe entirely.” Right, but how feasible are those plans? If Greenpeace is hoping to reduce energy consumption in Europe and supply the rest of it through wind farms and solar panel fields I doubt Russia feels that threatened that those plans will ever be implemented. But if fracking is becoming a real threat to their economy, then they would take action. Ultimately, I can’t be sure that Rasmussen isn’t being influenced by the fracking lobby to help build support against those with environmental or water-supply-safety concerns. But, while I’m open to further investigation, I think his claims sound credible.