For years, world leaders have accused Russia of funding environmental groups in Europe to steer nations away from energy independence and strengthen Russia’s iron grip over the continent. As nations across the globe begin shunning Russian oil in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. leaders are also questioning how deep Russia’s ties go in the environmental community.
“The Russians actually fund some of the most rabid environmental groups in Europe because they sic them on the energy projects that aren’t Russian,” James Carafano, vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital in a recent phone interview.
Back in June 2014, just months after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, European leaders sounded off that Russia was using disinformation operations with environmental groups to steer countries away from fracking in favor of Russian oil.
“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,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark and then-secretary-general of NATO, said, according to the Guardian.
NATO’s press office passed the remarks off as Rasmussen’s personal views, but one NATO official sounded the alarm that Russia’s grip on Europe was tightening.
“We don’t go into the details of discussions among allied leaders, but Russia has been using a mix of hard and soft power in its attempt to recreate a sphere of influence, including through a campaign of disinformation on many issues, including energy. In general, the potential for Russia using energy supplies as a means of putting pressure on European nations is a matter of concern. No country should use supply and pricing terms as tools of coercion,” the NATO official told the Guardian in 2014.
Environmental groups have meanwhile feverishly denied any ties to Russia.
“The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ,” Greenpeace told the Guardian in 2014.