For years, world leaders have accused Russia of funding environmental groups in Europe to steer nations away from energy independence and strengthen Russia’s iron grip over the continent. As nations across the globe begin shunning Russian oil in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. leaders are also questioning how deep Russia’s ties go in the environmental community. 

"The Russians actually fund some of the most rabid environmental groups in Europe because they sic them on the energy projects that aren’t Russian," James Carafano, vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital in a recent phone interview. 


Back in June 2014, just months after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, European leaders sounded off that Russia was using disinformation operations with environmental groups to steer countries away from fracking in favor of Russian oil. 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pauses before speaking during a Carnegie Europe think tank event at the Bibliotheque Solvay in Brussels on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.  (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

"I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations - environmental organisations working against shale gas - to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas," Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark and then-secretary-general of NATO, said, according to the Guardian. 

NATO’s press office passed the remarks off as Rasmussen’s personal views, but one NATO official sounded the alarm that Russia’s grip on Europe was tightening. 


"We don't go into the details of discussions among allied leaders, but Russia has been using a mix of hard and soft power in its attempt to recreate a sphere of influence, including through a campaign of disinformation on many issues, including energy. In general, the potential for Russia using energy supplies as a means of putting pressure on European nations is a matter of concern. No country should use supply and pricing terms as tools of coercion," the NATO official told the Guardian in 2014. 

Environmental groups have meanwhile feverishly denied any ties to Russia. 

"The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ," Greenpeace told the Guardian in 2014.

oil drilling platform 'Kolskaya' is seen in the Sea of Okhotsk

In this undated photo released by Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, an oil drilling platform 'Kolskaya' is seen in the Sea of Okhotsk. (AP)

By 2016, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Scotland and Bulgaria had all banned fracking, either temporarily or permanently. Russia’s power over European energy grew large by 2022, providing roughly 40% of the continent’s natural gas supply. Lithuania, for example, gets 83% of its oil imports from Russia, Poland gets 58% and Finland 80%, The Hill reported. 

"You're not really an independent nation if you depend on foreign countries so heavily for your energy supplies," Michael Shellenberger, the best-selling author of "Apocalypse Never," told Fox News earlier this month. 


Shellenberger said that 15 years ago, "Europe produced more natural gas than Russia," but that all changed as "Russia increased its natural gas production and Europe reduced it." 

"Europe decided not to frack in large part in response to climate activists," Shellenberger told Fox News. "We now think there is strong evidence suggesting [the climate activists] were supported directly through financing from Russia." 


In the U.S., Republican Reps. Lamar Smith and Randy Weber sent a letter to then-Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin in 2017 arguing that Russia’s goal is to "suppress the widespread adoption of fracking in Europe and the U.S." by funding such environmental groups. 

The two Republicans even cited former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who complained during a private 2014 speech about "phony environmental groups" pushing an anti-fracking agenda. 

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton (Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

"We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you,’ and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia," Clinton said, according to excerpts leaked by WikiLeaks in 2016.  

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are now holding three environmental groups’ feet to the fire. 

The Republicans, led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, are demanding that the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club disclose their ties to a San Francisco-based nongovernmental organization that Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly uses to wield power over American energy production.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Russia. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

"Provided the public reporting of Putin's dark money influence in Europe and the concerns surrounding similar efforts in the United States, we write today to explore your connections with Sea Change," the Republicans wrote in the letter to the three groups last week. "Any action by President Putin, the Russian government, or Putin's allies to undermine American energy security must be addressed."

The three groups denied any ties in a previous comment to Fox News, describing the accusations as "completely false," "rooted in a smear campaign," and a phony "conspiracy theory."


"It is vital to our national security to know if Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, or Putin’s allies are meddling with America’s energy affordability and security. If the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or Sierra Club have nothing to hide, then we look forward to seeing the evidence they provide by March 25th," House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leader McMorris Rodgers told Fox News Digital.