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Russia scaremongering habit lands Ukraine in (yet another) Twitter blunder

Russia scaremongering habit lands Ukraine in (yet another) Twitter blunder
The urge to accuse Russia of wrongdoing is sometimes so overwhelming that it overcomes the ability to comprehend what one reads, as this tweet by Ukraine’s gas transit company proves.

Followers of the account of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state-owned company receiving billions of dollars each year for pumping Russian natural gas to European consumers, may have been alarmed on Thursday. It warned that Russia had threatened “to turn off the taps if things are not going its way” with Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that will circumvent Ukraine and supply the fuel directly to Germany, much to the chagrin of the Ukrainian middleman.

Whoever posted it probably hoped nobody would actually follow the link supplied in the tweet. It leads to a TASS report about remarks by the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, who indeed criticized European opponents of the pipeline projects. The Europeans are undermining their energy security, when they shut off potential sources of energy, she argued.

“Some countries are closing down nuclear power plants. Also, they plan to stop using Russian natural gas. Will they opt for firewood?” Maria Zakharova was cited as saying.

“Opposing energy cooperation and its diversification and measures to adjust it to modern trends is madness for Europe, which needs fuel,” she said. “If the European legislators really pin their hopes on global warming, then yes, this may turn out a reasonable solution in the long term. The waiting period is a great problem, though.”

Needless to say, nowhere in her assessment of supply and demand for energy in Europe did she mention Russia “turning off taps” for its customers.

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One would think Russia watchers of all preferences could have learned to double check everything Ukrainian officials say about Russia. After all, they claimed Russian agents had killed a journalist this year only to present him well and alive the next day.

But some Russia experts eagerly cited by respectable western media outlets apparently didn’t learn the lesson. Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, retweeted Naftogaz’s fake news calling Zakharova’s statements “a naked threat” that should prompt European politicians to scrap the project.

So did StopFake, a Ukrainian project receiving European taxpayer money and supposedly using it to fight against “Russian fake news” by exposing them and telling the truth. You outperformed yourself with this one, fellows.

And so did – via Aslund – the UK-funded Integrity Initiative, a group meant to fight against “Russian disinformation” by training experts in recognizing Russian fake news. Their detector probably is not compatible with Ukrainian information.

Ironically, Naftogaz responded to its own tweet by saying it can supply as much Russian gas to Europe as needed. Maybe they simply don’t know what turning off the taps means?

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