THE KREMLIN IS MAKING AN OFFER THAT THE EU CANNOT REFUSE19.10.2021
With a long history of utilising energy exports as a tool of choice for coercing political concessions from energy recipients, pro-Kremlin outlets are trying to convince us otherwise.
Energy is a hot-button topic this week, also on pro-Kremlin outlets. These outlets are working hard to convince their audiences that Russia has never used energy as a coercive tool, and that in the end, there are no real alternatives for Russian supply, which is untrue.
Conveniently forgetting about the well-documented history(opens in a new tab) of Russia’s (and earlier, the Soviet Union’s) use of energy exports as a tool to get political concessions, pro-Kremlin outlets are trying to paint a picture of harmonious co-existence between Russia and its energy clients. Regrettably, many still remember well the events that took place in Ukraine back in spring 2014(opens in a new tab), when energy price hikes followed each other putting political pressure on Kyiv.
Simple denial is naturally not enough, the information space must be sprayed with a number of alternative theories to muddy the waters and exhaust critical audiences.
Pro-Kremlin coverage of the ways that the EU and its member states are trying to secure and diversify their supply of natural gas and other energy sources(opens in a new tab) can best be described as a used car salesperson’s pitch that does not have the customer’s best interests in mind.
According to pro-Kremlin outlets, any attempt by the EU to wean itself from a single supplier model to more secure and competitive dealings together with improved gas infrastructure is futile and leads only to higher prices.
Members of the European Parliament have clearly not taken this message into their hearts, but instead have asked the European Commission to investigate Gazprom’s role in recent price hikes in European gas markets.(opens in a new tab)
Muddy the waters
If the audiences are not receptive to the narratives of Russia as a reliable energy supplier, or that long-term supply contracts with Gazprom are the key to cheap and dependable gas supply, there is always the option to muddy the waters with a cheap rhetorical trick, and portray any other option as non-viable. As if there were no other sensible options available to decision-makers than relying on Russian energy supplies.
As the EU and its member states are making steady progress in their green transition away from fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, pro-Kremlin outlets portray it as a threat to Russia and push out false and misleading claims about renewables such as solar and wind energy, while drumming up support for Gazprom as an energy supplier.
The EUvsDisinfo database has numerous examples of pro-Kremlin outlets spouting disinformation regarding the EU and its member states’ energy policies and their goals. Disinformation from pro-Kremlin outlets gives observers a good approximation of the Kremlin’s policy priorities. A resilient EU, which is less dependent on Russian energy exports and has a healthy mix of energy suppliers, is not among the end states that the Kremlin wants to see.