Ask anyone today what Greenpeace's mission is all about and you will more than likely hear everything from, saving the whales to saving the oceans. Any of those answers would be correct. Their most recent mission has been to get the public's attention focused on the environmental damage oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean will create.
So it is surprising that a survey taken by Russian State pollster VTsIOM
, released on Monday showed that over one-third of Russians polled thought the protest in the Kara Sea by Greenpeace was a "foreign plot." Another two-thirds of those polled disagreed with the group wanting to protect the environment from oil drilling.
Well, if Greenpeace was supposedly not out in the coldest area of the Arctic Ocean on an environmental mission, then what kind of plot, foreign or otherwise could they have possibly been involved in? Of course, one would have to dismiss the banner the group was trying to put up on the Prirazlomnaya offshore oil platform.
You would have to go back a few years to understand the Russian public's attitude on oil drilling and the need to harvest the "black gold" found under the Arctic Ocean. The issue has been likened to the declining output of oil on land that caused the U.S. to look at the Gulf of Mexico for oil in the 1970's.
The same problem is now plaguing Russian oil interests. The oil fields of Siberia
are drying up, and without Arctic oil drilling, oil production is forecast to decline by 1 million barrels a day by the year 2020. Right now, their current oil production is 10 million barrels a day.
The Russian ambassador at large for Arctic issues, Anton Vasiliyev, had this to say in his opening remarks last month at a trade show for off-shore oil drilling companies in St. Petersburg
, "We refer to the Arctic Ocean as the Gulf of Mexico of the 21st century."
Russian sovereignty over the Arctic region
, including the North Pole is an issue that's debatable by many, but fully accepted by the average Russian. This is why the recent poll taken by VTsIOM could be considered biased. It was well publicized on Russian television, as were the arrests of the Greenpeace activists as pirates. This is a case where the news is controlled by the government, and people hear what the government wants them to hear.
In any case, there is speculation the Greenpeace activists will eventually be released, once Russia makes sure the rest of the world understands their claim to drilling rights in the Arctic should remain undisputed. While it is hoped the crew of the Arctic Sunrise
will be released soon, allowing oil and gas exploration to go forward in the Arctic is a disaster in the making.