That’s what NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen is claiming. The Secretary General told an audience at Chatham House in London that, in an effort to stymie its western customers’ ability to diversify away from Gazprom gas, Moscow has supported a misinformation campaign against fracking in Europe. The Guardian reports:
Rasmussen 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.”
The treaty organization’s press office was quick to point out that Rasmussen’s comments reflected his personal opinion and were not part of any official NATO policy. But Rasmussen may be saying what many are already thinking, as another NATO official seemed to corroborate this belief in a confidential interview with the FT:
A Nato official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Financial Times that the alliance believed Russia was engaged in “a campaign of disinformation on many issues, including energy”.“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,” they said. “We share a concern by some allies that Russia could try to obstruct possible projects on shale gas exploration in Europe in order to maintain Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.”
Europe’s policymakers seem much more keen to agitate for access to America’s shale gas glut than they are to jump-start production of their own domestic reserves. Whether or not Russia is fomenting anti-fracking sentiment across Russia isn’t clear, but they’re certainly benefiting from it. More reliant customers are also more pliant neighbors.