by Ivan Doan
by Andrew Stanton
Russian state TV released a Christmas message to Europe recently amid Moscow’s faltering invasion of Ukraine.
The video, released by Russia Today (RT), comes as the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 10th month on Christmas Eve. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military has struggled to achieve substantial goals in Ukraine throughout the war, with Ukraine’s spirited defense—bolstered by aid from the West—blunting military gains. Throughout the fall, Ukraine retook thousands of square miles of formerly occupied land.
Most of Europe rallied around the Eastern European country, providing humanitarian and military aid to Kyiv, much to Putin’s dismay. Many European countries have also issued sanctions against Russian businesses, including oil. Russian oil has long been used across Europe, and these sanctions have been attributed to rising energy costs in several European countries.
RT highlighted the rising cost of oil in a new propaganda video, which aimed to illustrate the effects of rising energy prices on Europeans.
The video—first reported by BBC’s Francis Scarr on Twitter on Friday—starts off by showing a scene from Christmas 2021, in which a young girl received a pet hamster wearing a bow for Christmas, while the holiday classic “Silent Night” plays in the background.
One year later, the girl’s father is seen creating a contraption for the hamster to generate electricity for the family, presumably because the cost of powering and heating their home has become too expensive due to sanctions against Russia. The hamster, running on a wheel, creates energy to light the Christmas tree as the family sits on a couch, dressed in coats and earmuffs.
The video then cuts to Christmas 2023, when the family, now appearing to live in poverty, is eating their Christmas dinner when the father finds the hamster’s bow in his soup, implying they were forced to cook the pet for a holiday meal.
“Merry ‘anti-Russian’ Christmas! If your media doesn’t tell you where this is all going, RT is available available by VPN,” text displayed at the end of the video reads, revealing it as an advertisement for the Kremlin-tied news outlet.
The video was met with mockery on social media, where Twitter users largely ridiculed its hyperbole and fear-mongering.
Journalist Dave Keating tweeted on Friday: “Russia not even trying to disguise its energy blackmail any more.”
“Ahahahahahahahahah Look at this. This is how #Russians want your Christmas and winter holidays to be, my dear European friends. Classic #Russian ‘we’ll act horrible, but if you dont like us, we’ll make you suffer’. Pathetic,” tweeted E-Sports coach Iavn Shevtsov.
Despite the video implying Europe could suffer due to energy prices, gas prices across Europe actually dropped in the week leading up to Christmas amid milder temperatures and supply from liquefied natural gas, according to Nasdaq.
The European Union (EU) agreed to a gas price cap last week, its latest effort to keep prices low as they deal with sanctions imposed against Moscow, as well as global inflation that has affected markets in other countries. The cap will be triggered if prices exceed 180 euros per megawatt hour for three days on the Dutch Tile Transfer Facility’s gas hub’s front-month contract, according to Reuters.
Still, the sanctions have impacted day-to-day life for millions of Europeans, who, according to a report from EuroNews on Wednesday, have engaged in several ways to conserve power including reduced use of central heating or local governments providing residents with duvets.
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