Russia stoking youth climate protests in Europe: Klimkin

BRUSSELS: Russia has been stoking youth climate protests in Europe, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Monday, days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel also hinted at such a link.
Schoolchildren and young people have been taking to the streets demanding climate action, with tens of thousands demonstrating in countries including Germany, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands.
“Russia has been supporting, stirring up trouble around Europe because the Russian goal is to weaken our democratic institutions and to weaken the European Union,” Klimkin told journalists.
Asked whether Moscow is behind the climate action protests, he responded: “Definitely, yes.” The Russian goal is also to discredit polluting energy sources such as coal, while promoting Russian gas as a clean alternative, Klimkin argued.
Relations between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia have plummeted since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014, while supporting separatist groups battling the Ukrainian military. Tensions have escalated further since November due to a naval spat.
On Saturday, Merkel mentioned the climate protests in the context of Russian hybrid warfare which, she said, was being felt daily in every European country.
“In Germany, children are now protesting for climate protection — that is a really important issue,” Merkel said at the Munich Security Conference. “But that suddenly, after years and without external influence, all German children hit upon the idea that you have to do this protest, that is unimaginable too,” she added. — dpa