Disinfo: Washington is behind Latvia's decision to buy Belarusian-produced energy

Summary

It is an illusion that the Latvian government changed its policies and suddenly started caring about the people; put a stop to psychiatric Russophobia; stopping attempts to revise the results of WWII results and to rehabilitate fascism. Latvia’s decision to trade energy on the border with Russia, not through Lithuania as before, could not be adopted without the US’s approval. Such geopolitical deals cannot be made by Latvia without Washington, just as the issues of moderate importance have to be agreed in Brussels. The US’s intention seems to increase leverage over Belarus by intensifying its economic dependence on Latvia. At some point in the future, if no concessions are made by the Belarusian authorities over some matters, Washington will be able to blackmail Minsk, saying that Latvia will interrupt imports of Belarusian energy.

Disproof

This is a conspiracy which continues a series of disinformation attempts concerning the construction of the Belarusian NPP. It is consistent with recurring narratives about Latvia as a vassal state of the US and the prevalence of fascism and Russophobia in the Baltic countries. Taken that Lithuania considers the Belarusian NPP as insecure and intends to end energy imports from Belarus and that until recently, the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, had been serving the Baltic states as the only point of trade in energy with third countries, Latvia decided to open an energy trade point at the Latvian-Russian border. It is groundless speculation that Latvia sought Washington’s approval to make this decision. Instead, as the Latvian government stated, it consulted neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania and the European Commission over this issue. See previous disinformation cases alleging that Latvia lost its sovereignty to the EU, that its authorities destroyed national banking sector on Washington orders, and that Nazis rule present-time Latvia. Finally, the accusation that Latvia is attempting to revise the results of WWII, it is actually Russia who has published a series of disinformation attempts on this over the past weeks, see, for instance, here, here, here, and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 160
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/08/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: US, Belarus, Latvia
  • Keywords: Nuclear issues, Conspiracy theory, Nazi/Fascist
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Kyiv is planning to disrupt transit of gas to the EU

The version that Kyiv is working on, to disrupt the transit (of gas), is almost confirmed. Almost every day, Naftogaz representatives say they won’t sign the new contract. Of course, they blame Russia for everything, but they make it clear that, in any case, there will be no agreement. And they are developing an action plan that will be implemented only if the transit is suspended.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative blaming Ukraine for the disruption of the gas talks between Russia and Ukraine and plans to cut gas transit from Russia to the EU. According to Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council Secretary Oleksandr Danylyuk, a group to negotiate a new deal between Russia and Ukraine on gas transit will be set up after Ukraine forms a new government. “The [Russian gas transit] contract expires on 1st January. Once the new government is appointed, it will form the group and the group leader, the energy minister, will be tasked with negotiating the conclusion of a new contract or the extension of the current one,” Danylyuk told BBC Ukraine in an interview published on 13 August 2019. He acknowledges that the extension of the transit is important for Ukraine, and Kyiv is ready to sign a new contract. “There are other factors to be taken into account, including the way the Ukrainian GTS [gas transportation system] works. This is important. Continuation of Russian gas transit would have been irrelevant if not for that. We understand that this is another leverage,” he said. However, in case a new deal cannot be agreed, Ukraine is preparing a Plan B. State gas transport company Ukrtransgaz has already upgraded five gas pumping stations that will be able to provide gas for consumers in the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine in case gas transit is disrupted. At the moment, Ukraine and Russia have different views on how a new deal should work. Moscow proposes a short-term deal to have time to complete its pipelines that bypass Ukraine. On the contrary, Kyiv supports European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic’s proposal to sign a 10-year transit contract with a guaranteed minimum yearly transit volume of 60 bcm and 30 bcm of additional flexibility. Trilateral talks between Ukraine, Russia and the EU on gas transit will resume in September.

Latvia plans to buy electricity at Russian border to disrupt Belarusian-Russia relations

Latvia’s decision to buy electricity at the Latvian-Russian border is an attempt to play a political game. Latvia wants to occupy a strategic position thanks to its location between Estonia and Lithuania. It also wants to place itself higher than the other Baltic states due to its Russophobic activities. Latvia wants to enhance bilateral relations with Belarus by becoming a large buyer of energy produced at the Belarusian nuclear power plant. Given that Latvian relations with Russia are tense, Latvia plans to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations this way. This is an artificial and silly measure though, which will hardly bring fruit for Latvia.

Disproof

This is conspiracy based on a misinterpretation of the recent decision taken by the Latvian government. This message is consistent with recurring narratives about the West's attempts to disrupt Belarusian-Russia relations by any means and groundless Russophobic tendencies and measures taken by the Baltic states. Taken that Lithuania considers the Belarusian NPP unsecure and intends to end energy imports from Belarus and that, until recently, the Lithuanian-Belarusian border had been serving the Baltic states as the only point of trade in energy with third countries, Latvia decided to open an energy trade point at the Latvian-Russian border. On 13 August 2019, the Latvian electricity transmission system operator informed: "With the aim to timely mitigate the risks of shortened electricity flows or negative tariff fluctuations, today the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal by the Ministry of Economy to place the electricity trade at the Latvian border after Lithuania terminates trade in electricity with Belarus. This decision will ensure that the present-tie conditions on trade with third countries will remain in place." The message issued by the Latvian government gives an identical reason behind the decision. After Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš made a statement, saying that: "I can repeat that the Latvian government has not made the decision to buy electricity in Belarus.” Previously pro-Kremlin outlets speculated about various Western measures aimed at disrupting Belarusian-Russina relations, including Poland's decision not to invite Putin to the WWII commemoration ceremony, and producing the popular Chernobyl series. See a collection of disinformation cases concerning the construction of the Belarusian NPP here.

Venezuelan 'refugees' are being trained at a British military base in Guyana to infiltrate their country

Several dozen so-called “refugees” from Venezuela are being trained at a British military base in Guyana to integrate reconnaissance and sabotage teams against the government of Nicolás Maduro. The United Kingdom is completing the construction of that base on an island in the mouth of the Essequibo River under the pretext of thwarting arms and drugs smugglers.

Disproof

No evidence is provided to support the claim. No British base is being built in Guyana so far. On August 16, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana strongly denied the allegation and called on Russia to withdraw it. In late December 2018, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, declared during an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that his Government was looking for two new permanent military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia, as part of an effort to make the UK “a truly global player” after Brexit. The same newspaper speculated that the location for those bases could be either Singapore or Brunei in Asia, and either Guyana or Montserrat in the Caribbean. Almost immediately, the announcement was criticized by Russia’s Foreign Ministry. But there is nothing to signal that this project is already under construction, much less than Venezuelan refugees are being trained by British forces.