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Gas wars. Clash between Nord Stream 2, Baltic Pipe and US LNG in pro-Kremlin disinformation

Pro-Kremlin media outlets present Nord Stream 2 projects as a gift for Europe, which will not survive without Russian support. They accuse all opponents of politicization and lack of reason since, according to them, NS2 is a purely commercial project.

Co-dependency of Russia and Europe in LNG field creates an ongoing clash. There have been growing concerns in the EU with regards to Russia’s reliability as an energy partner. Moreover, European Parliament studies shows that Russia’s supplies are a significant political leverage in any negotiations with Europe, including cases like detention of Navalny.

Other states, especially Poland and Baltic countries, perceive dependency on Russian gas as a potential threat to energy security and aim at diversification of sources. Thus, as an alternative, Polish government started the Baltic Pipe project, which aims to transit gas from Norway. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 has set in motion a downward spiral of sanctions and countersanctions. After finishing the NS2, Russia could completely avoid using Ukraine as transit, which would worsen its economic situation and, moreover, could influence the result of the war in Donbas.

Between June 1st and July 11th Debunk EU analysed 390 articles on the issues and detected 212 articles (almost 54%), that were identified as disinformation. Two major peaks in disinformation flow were detected: the first related to the statement about finishing the construction of the NS2 and the second related to the decision of Danish authorities to rescind an environmental permit for the Baltic Pipe.

Top narratives about the Nord Stream 2 project
Top narratives about the Nord Stream 2 project

Narratives used in pro-Kremlin disinformation on the issue on the one side aim to undermine other countries positions and projects, and on the other present idealistic picture of Nord Stream 2. The most prominent narrative, used in more than 100 detected articles, aimed to undermine the positions of the EU and the US, accusing them of politicization of the project. Together with that narrative NS2 was presented as purely commercial and beneficial project. Accusation of politicization were spread also against Ukraine. Hostile language was used to present negative picture of Ukraine, as a state which interferes in Russian international energy policies. The Baltic Pipe project was presented as a failure due to accused lack of international agreement and unprofitability, delays, or danger to environment.

The analysis showed a great diversification of Russian language media sources spreading disinformation on the topic. Only one outlet covered more than 15% of the disinformation flow - (Kont, Kontinentalist). Such diversification suggests that it was important for Kremlin media to maintain extensive coverage on the topic in various channels to ground it in wider audience.

analysis of diversification of Russian language media sources spreading disinformation on the topic

To present disinformation on the issue technique of association were used very often. Disinformation within the association technique predominantly was complemented and reinforced with the statements of Russia's officials and other statesmen. It suggests that Russia's officials are active participators of spreading disinformation and they legitimize disinformation messages. analysts use multiple tools to deliver reports:

  • analysis platform

  • CrowdTangle - Facebook tool that tracks interactions on public content from Facebook pages and groups, verified profiles, Instagram.

  • Truly Media - collaboration platform developed to support primarily journalists in the verification of digital content.

  • TruthNest - Twitter data analysis platform.

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