WHAT KREMLIN PROPAGANDISTS SAY:
In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the EU has imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia, including several measures targeting its oil and gas industry.
Since these sanctions were imposed, Russian-state media has been steadfast in their efforts to construct the disinformation narrative that ‘Europe cannot survive without Russia’s gas.’ Gazprom even released a video about how ‘Europe will face a cold winter” after announcing the shutdown of Nord Stream 1 in September 2022.
This disinformation narrative claims that Europe has entered a long-term energy crisis. They claim that as a consequence of no longer relying on cheap Russian gas, European citizens will be unable to afford to heat their homes (and later express disdain about their failed plans themselves).
Kremlin propagandists also argue that Europe will now become dependent on US gas and this will result in European consumers paying almost twice as much for energy.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS:
In response to the unprecedented levels of sanctions imposed on Russia, Kremlin propagandists have sought to portray these measures as more damaging to Europe than Russia. In June 2022, the EU prohibited the purchase, import or transfer of seaborne crude oil and certain petroleum products from Russia to the EU . They estimate that these sanctions will cover nearly 90% of Russian oil imports to Europe and significantly reduce Russia’s trade profits . Whilst Russia has remained tight-lipped about the true state of its economy, the negative impact that these sanctions have had on Russia’s exports has been undeniable .
The EU implemented a wide range of preventative measures in order to build resistance against potential gas shortages. The EU has been able to fill its underground gas reserves to 95% of capacity through a voluntary reduction of demand - avoiding the catastrophe which was predicted by pro-Kremlin outlets. Far from sowing its own destruction, the EU has implemented a number of measures which have improved energy security, future-proofing gas prices against extreme volatility.
The outbreak of the war saw substantial increases in domestic gas prices, however, the extreme implications which Russia warned of were never realised. In fact, natural gas prices in Europe have recently returned to their normal trading range, trading at €30 per megawatt hour . Gas storage is 65% full and nearly twenty percent higher than the previous five-year average. Energy experts have stated that, even if prices were to increase once again, this would be nowhere near the level seen in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The extreme and emotive language associated with this narrative is designed to stoke fears about the international impact of the war. Like many of Russia’s disinformation narratives, this narrative seeks to undermine international support for Ukraine. When it comes to rhetoric of “gas blackmail”, the Kremlin's propagandists do not shy away from drama, including descriptions of people freezing to death in their own homes and joking that “you cannot make Ukrainian borscht without Russian gas ”. The reality is that, in the wake of the war, the EU has pivoted away from its reliance on Russian gas and that Russia will undoubtedly suffer economically as a result of its war of aggression.
Debunker is a series of disinformation-busting articles from Debunk.org which focus on dispelling the harmful lies and propaganda being pushed by pro-Kremlin sources. Check out the rest of the series at debunk.org/debunker.