When spies turn Green

A Guest Post

Prime Minister Ardern has declared New Zealand free of Russian spies, which must be a huge relief to all and sundry. We can presume that she had our security people at Warbirds over Wanaka on the weekend ensuring no Russian military spies got away with any useful intelligence on our airforce.

The same security staff would surely have been hiding in the lupins on the Mahia Peninsula checking for espionage on our latest rocket launching.

Imagine the catastrophe should the Russkies have been checking the LAVs and found they couldn’t fit into the transport aircraft that would be needed to deploy them. Such knowledge could have put the country at risk or even made Australia vulnerable had we needed to shoot across and help defend them.  

Thank goodness we now have an electric fence around those big white golf balls down among the grapes at Waihopai to protect our messages from the CIA falling into the wrong hands. Mind you, the Russians might find the Gallagher electric-fence technology more ‘spy worthy’ than anything coming from the CIA into Marlborough.

It is possible that our Prime Minister, however, was looking in the wrong place for Russian spies.

Where she should have been looking was down the corridor in the Green party’s communication office, or along the street at Forest & Bird or Greenpeace.

Evidence coming out of the USA shows the Russians heavily involved in bolstering American green groups, opposing progress and interfering in many issues on the side of the greenies, the anti-progress luddites, the left wing, the socialists and environmentalists.

The US House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently issued a report detailing attempts by the Russian government to disrupt US energy markets through social media. Russian operatives encouraged protests to block pipeline construction and prevent new oil and gas extraction projects, among other activities.

“The Kremlin manipulated various groups in an attempt to carry out its geopolitical agenda, particularly with respect to domestic energy policy,” the report stated.

Between 2015 and 2017 the Internet Research Agency, a front group for Russia, created 4,334 accounts across Twitter and Facebook, producing 9,097 posts or tweets on US energy policy or energy-related events, the analysts estimate. Dozens of posts encouraged Americans to protest pipeline construction, especially targeting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Russian government funnelled money through surrogates to US environmental organisations to fund attacks on the fossil fuel industry, according to the report. “This report reveals that Russian agents created and spread propaganda on U.S. social media platforms,” said committee Chairman Lamar Smith in a written statement. “Russian agents attempted to manipulate Americans’ opinions about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking, and climate change.”

Thursday’s report states that some of the tweets and Facebook posts smeared across social media by Russian firm Internet Research Agency (IRA) Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Science, Space, and Technology – the one indicted as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 US presidential election were built around pro-environmental or anti-fossil-fuel memes.

It cites one example of a post using a photograph of a Dakota Access Pipeline protester with the Russian-operative-written text, “Americans have been stealing from Native Americans for more than 500 years.”

The Washington Examiner said a Bermuda-based shell corporation run by executives with strong ties to Putin and Russian energy investment groups channelled US$23 million to an environmental group – the Sea Change Foundation that funds lobbyists like Sierra Club and Greenpeace. The Sierra Club received sums in excess of US$55 million from the Sea Change Foundation over several years.

A recent initiative supported by all the major green groups in the US is called “Keep it in the Ground”.  The aims of this movement actually assist the Russians and funds fed into the Sea Change Foundation are strengthening the move to stop drilling, fracking and exploration.

Should New Zealanders be surprised if some of these funds end up here, used for lobbying Ardern and her coalition as they mull over the future of oil and gas licenses? Some local green groups are officially part of the “Keep it in the Ground” organisation. It is time to ask the questions.

Would local environmental groups even know if they were being supported by Russian money and propaganda? It’s doubtful.

Russia is the biggest exporter of oil and gas and wants to hold its superiority. It also knows that environmental groups oppose progress, weaken nations and disrupt economies. Most greens are too naïve to notice Russian interference or, if they did, would have no compunction running with their support on their ignorant ‘greater-good’ beliefs.

We could be excused for thinking that the Russians were actually interfering in American politics. The media are all over Trump and the Republicans with fake news about Putin’s men creating mayhem in the election polls and lobbying Trumps family and associates. It is now apparent that this was as likely as the Russians stealing our electric fence secrets.

The real story, studiously avoided by mainstream media, is the Russian interference in the energy sector through lobbying, funding, fake Facebook pages, environmental advocacy, spreading propaganda and making the opposition look much stronger than it is.

Can someone please tell the Prime Minister?

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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