Last week, a brave group of international Greenpeace activists scaled the first commercially viable offshore oil rig in the Arctic, the Prirazlomnaya in Russia's Pechora Sea. What you're seeing in the video above is the Russian military footage of the Special Forces response to that peaceful protest, revealing the lengths the Russian government will go to in order to protect state owned oil facilities in Russia.
Female climber Sini Saarela from Finland -- clearly in distress -- is heard shouting "I'm coming down, I'm coming down!" while armed agents recklessly pull on a safety rope used to secure her to the structure. The video then shows live rounds fired into the water by Russian security forces despite an activist on the Greenpeace boat clearly holding his hands in the air, signaling his peaceful intentions.
After firing 11 shots and brandishing knives at the protesters, the Federal Security Service (FSB) took the two activists into custody. 12 hours later, the Special Forces illegally seized the ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and towed it and its 30 member crew, including American Captain Peter Willcox, to Murmansk where it continues to hold them without formal charges.
Peaceful activism is crucial when governments around the world have failed to respond to dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere.
Gazprom plans to start production from the Prirazlomnaya platform in the first quarter of 2014, raising the risk of an oil spill in an area that contains three nature reserves protected by Russian law.
The company has also signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell to further exploit Russia's Arctic shelf. Although joint Shell-Gazprom drilling operations remain some years away, the partnership will expose Shell's investors to the huge risks associated with Russia's chaotic oil industry.