Disinformation as a Weapon in the War For Energetic Materials

Гасна инфраструктура. Фото: © Rosemary Oakeshott (cc-by-sa/2.0)

 

Every war is fought on multiple fronts. In relation to the war in Ukraine, the most terrible is the one that takes place in the fields where lives are lost every day, facilities and buildings are destroyed, and the tragedy and senselessness of the war left deep scars in people’s souls every day. War is also being waged in the field of diplomacy, but what is happening for the first time and will be recorded in the historical chronicles of the 21st century, is that in this era we are witnessing a war for energetic materials

 

Author: Zoran Bojarovski

 

It is now becoming clear how strong the Russian influence is, especially in Europe, where for decades it was the “driver” of the European economy and progress using cheap energy material – natural gas. Each new pipeline (Nord Stream 1, Nord Stream 2, Soyuz, Brotherhood, Northern Light, South Stream, Transgas…), was like a new infusion into the bloodstream of Europe.

Photo: Map with gas pipelines from Russia to Europe. Author: Samuel Bailey, Wikipedia

When on September 6, this year Gazprom widely distributed a video in which in the first frame the tap is closed and the arrow of the gas flow meter drops to zero, no one had any reservations that we were witnessing a war for energetic materials.

It was one of the culminations of the propaganda war when all the doubts that gas and oil became ammunition for disinformation were already cleared up.

 

The war for energetic materials – The case of Macedonia

In anticipation of the long “cold” winter, that even the politicians talk openly about, N. Macedonia is not a silent observer, but how effective the measures and policies are taken to mitigate the impact will be, remains uncertain because there are too many open questions, and new ones are imposed with each passing day.

In the meantime, parallel to the economic war for securing gas for a longer period or “for the other alternatives, fuel oil and coal”, the state must not ignore the fight to prevent disinformation in any way. The primary goal of disinformation is to undermine and completely destabilize the public in the measures and policies of the Government and the competent institutions for providing the necessary conditions for overcoming the threats from the energy crisis.

As many times before, the largest political opposition in Macedonia, instead of showing solidarity and participating responsibly in the efforts to overcome this threat, took a position to criticize just to gain political points from the crisis.

In the middle of January this year, less than thirty days after the start of the war in Ukraine and when it became clear that Russian gas was becoming a weapon in that war, this party came out with a statement in which it claimed that:

If the government of Zaev and the pawn Kovačevski made an effort to provide cheap gas to the international market like all governments from the region and the world, Macedonian companies and citizens would not be paying the most expensive gas now. Citizens are now paying more for gas, because the government did not ensure low gas prices, when governments of other states did.

Truthmeter’s counterspin, “Counterspin: High Gas Import Prices Are Not Related to Government Negotiating Abilities”, debunks the disinformation placed in the announcement, “although formally and legally the government negotiates the price of gas with the Russians, its role and influence on the price, according to the above reasons, is very low. It is much more about an attempt to influence the Russian side on the geopolitical situation in the region, than about real economic negotiations through which the Macedonian side would have some influence on the price”.

Soon after, the momentum of disinformation intensified with the start of the war and the initial advance of Russian occupation forces on the territory of Ukraine, when Russia, in response to economic and political sanctions against Moscow, decided to cut off gas supplies to some European countries, including Bulgaria.

Immediately after, more misinformation or half-truths followed, such as the news on the Infomax portal on March 20 with the title “Macedonia will run out of gas? – Delivery put in danger, Bulgaria gives up Russian gas.”

What is typical for this type of disinformation is that apart from the title, the content of the information is not about Macedonia at all, but about Bulgaria and about its situation in which it will find itself if the gas from Russia is cut off, and about the reaction to the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučikj regarding this issue.

The manipulation of the news structured in this way is even more visible if it is known that the paraphrased statement of the Serbian president is not accurately transmitted and thus leads to a wrong conclusion because in the original comment President Vučikj indicates that the gas cut for Bulgaria does not hinder the transit of gas for others countries that have an agreement with Gazprom.

And this really is the case. North Macedonia is proof of this because although the Kremlin stopped the delivery of gas to Bulgaria, which comes to us through this country, was not, and to this day is not interrupted. Alfa TV also took part in the distribution of disinformation on this topic with the television report entitled “Russia is stopping the gas valves for Bulgaria, Macedonia has gas for now, but the question is for how much longer”.

 

The war in Ukraine will accelerate the implementation of the Green Agenda

The illustrative explanation of the president of the Regulatory Commission for Energy, Marko Bislimovski, indicates what gas prices are and how, together with disinformation, they have become a weapon in Putin’s war and Russia’s influence.

The cost of producing one thousand cubic meters of gas for Gazprom in 2020 was about 40 US dollars. I don’t believe their costs have gone up in 2021 or this year. Here, let’s add the maximum cost of transportation, the price reaches up to 100 dollars for 1,000 cubic meters of Siberian gas. At the end of August this year, Gazprom’s gas price reached $2,900 per thousand cubic meters. This is how the war in Ukraine is financed, says Bislimvski from RKE in a conversation about the needs for this analysis.

In this regard, the statement of the former Minister of the Environment in the Government of Bulgaria, Julian Popov, will be remembered, who said, “when you negotiate with Gazprom, you are actually negotiating with the Ministry of Defense of Russia.”

In addition, Mitko Andreevski, one of the most experienced energy consultants in Macedonia, is of the opinion that Europe is considering several scenarios and will find a way to deal with this threat.

Will there be damage? Of course! Will EU make it? Of course it will, because let us not forget that the EU, with the Green Agenda, planned, and is gradually implementing, the strategy to reduce dependence on natural gas and completely exclude its use by 2050, Andreevski points out.

Bislimovski from RKE points to the long-term strategy of Europe, i.e. the EU, to completely get rid of energy dependence on Russia with serious investments in renewable energy sources, wind turbines and photovoltaics, and if there is anything useful from this extreme crisis, it is the acceleration of the implementation of the Green Agenda.

There is now an upward trend in investing in batteries to store electricity produced by photovoltaics and wind. This is how reserves are created when they are used when they are needed, explains the president of RKE Bislimovski.

Among the long-term scenarios for exiting the crisis mentioned by Andreevski are the additional benefits of investments in the construction of new capacities from renewable sources for electricity and terminals for LNG, i.e. liquid gas. Germany is already building them, and in the region of Greece, apart from Alexandroupolis, another one has been announced near Volos.

 

 


This article has been produced within the project Fact-Checking the Progress of North Macedonia towards the EU, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, originally published by Truthmeter,, is made possible by the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The content of this article is the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, NED or their partners.

 

 

 

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