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Trump Putin big oil

Big Oil finances Putin’s war crimes and Trump’s political ambitions

Recent findings suggest that Big Oil has been channeling funds into Putin’s regime and Trump’s political coffers, supporting Russian aggression in Ukraine and efforts to secure favors for the fossil fuel industry.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with US President Donald Trump at the sidelines of the G20 summit in 2017. Photo: Kremlin.ru
Big Oil finances Putin’s war crimes and Trump’s political ambitions

As the world confronts the horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the relentless escalation of climate change impacts, it is high time to hold the oil industry giants accountable. For decades, these corporations have supported despotic regimes and hindered climate action. Now they are pushing the world into descending autocracy, war, and socio-economic collapse.

ADNOC’s $100B oil deals during COP28 presidency

The impact of fossil fuels on politics creates a truly dystopian reality.

As a new investigation by Global Witness shows, UAE state-owned oil and gas company ADNOC sought $100 bn worth of oil deals while its CEO, Sultan Al Jaber, was president of the COP28 climate change summit.

Sultan Al Jaber cop28 big oil
Sultan Al Jaber, COP 28 President and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technologies, UAE. Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

While Al Jaber was chairing the global climate negotiations, in one of its record 20 deals in 2023, ADNOC agreed to a joint equity stake to produce gas from Azerbaijan’s Absheron gas field, its first major upstream project outside of the UAE.

As Global Witness highlighted, this wasn’t just business. The deal represented a highly symbolic moment, the passing of the torch from one petrostate COP host to the next.

At this point, it becomes hard to distinguish between UN COPs (climate change conferences) and OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) summits.

Pioneer Natural Resources CEO’s alleged collusion with OPEC

A recent investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed collusion by Scott Sheffield, former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, one of America’s largest oil producers, with the OPEC cartel, aiming to inflate crude oil prices.

This alleged collusion may have cost each American household up to $500 per car annually in increased fuel expenses. The following decision by the FTC permanently kicked Sheffield off the board of directors of the corporate merger he crafted between his firm and ExxonMobil, infamous for its key role in climate change denial and disinformation campaigns. Yet the deal itself was not interrupted and Big Oil got even bigger.

This example shows how, in the USA, unchecked corporate malfeasance by Big Oil conspiring with OPEC leads to higher costs for essential goods and services for ordinary people.

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Big Oil’s $300 billion profits amid Ukraine war

Exxon Mobil and other major US oil companies collectively earned more than $300 billion in profits over the last two years, benefitting from energy price spikes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, high oil prices on world markets, maintained by oil cartels, resulted in an escalating death toll from Putin’s unrelenting onslaught. The Russian war economy thrives on fossil fuel revenues, sustaining this devastating conflict that claims innocent lives daily.

The OPEC+ cartel, which includes Russia, manipulates the global oil supply to keep prices high and hinder the transition to renewable energy. This cartelization of energy markets not only enriches autocrats but also sabotages global efforts to combat climate change, trapping us in a destructive cycle of dependency and environmental degradation.

OPEC oil cartel prices
By adjusting the quantity (Q) of oil that is produced, OPEC keeps oil prices (P) higher than their competitive market price. Credit: Barry Posner, Penn State

While Big Oil empties the pockets of consumers in the US, its actions in Eastern Europe contribute to war crimes and mass murders.

High global oil prices enable the Kremlin to fund massive missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian cities, claiming innocent lives and wreaking havoc on civilian infrastructure.

In 2024, fueled by oil and gas export revenues, Russia’s “national defense” budget expanded to $110 billion (10.775 trillion rubles). This marks a 70% increase from 2023, more than doubling from 2022 and tripling the pre-war 2021 allocation.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago pitch for $1 billion in Big Oil campaign donations

Fossil fuel money is also openly paving the way for autocracy and grand political corruption in the USA.

In April, Donald Trump collected 20 fossil fuel executives at his Mar-a-Lago club to make a brazen pitch for his presidential campaign donations, asking for $1 billion in contributions.

In return, Trump promised lucrative tax and regulatory favors for Big Oil.

When it became public, two top Democrats, Senate Budget Committee chairman Sheldon Whitehouse and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, launched an investigation demanding answers from nine oil and gas companies and their trade associations, who participated in Trump’s fundraiser dinner.

Climate protesters interrupt former US president and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump as he speaks at a “commit to caucus rally” in Indianola, Iowa, on 14 January 2024. (Photo by Christian MONTERROSA / AFP/Eastnews)

If Trump gets elected with Big Oil backing, the tax breaks on fossil fuels could be reinstated in 2025, potentially bringing the industry additional revenues of the same deadly amount—$110 billion, equal to Putin’s annual expense on flattening Ukraine.

After requesting $1 billion in contributions to his election campaign, Trump could deliver an 11,000% return on investment in tax breaks and subsidies to Big Oil if he succeeds.

The Democrats are right to argue that Big Oil’s collusion with OPEC+ is a severe national security threat, benefiting adversarial nations like Russia and Iran.

Big Oil’s history of cooperation with Putin despite criminality

It must also be acknowledged that Big Oil has a long and dark history of cooperation with Putin. Since the 1990s, Big Oil has ignored evidence of Putin’s deep criminality and disregard for life and the Geneva Conventions, which were evident in his war in Chechnya more than two decades ago and have only escalated over time.

Companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell forged business partnerships with Putin’s regime, fully aware of who they were dealing with.

Companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell forged business partnerships with Putin’s regime, fully aware of who they were dealing with.

Killings of journalists and political opponents, as well as false flag acts of terror, were his standard methods for gaining and preserving power. After the 1999 bombings of four apartment blocks in Moscow and two other cities, which killed hundreds and were carried out by Russian security forces, Putin solidified his leadership by flattening the Chechen capital Grozny the following winter, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

Russian soldiers in Grozny, Chechnya, First Chechen War December 1994-May 1996
Russian soldiers in Grozny, Chechnya, First Chechen War December 1994-May 1996

Rex Tillerson’s connections to Putin and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin

The relationship between Big Oil and the Kremlin is a sordid tale of greed and power.

ExxonMobil and BP have long been in bed with Russian oil giants like Gazprom and Rosneft.

This unholy alliance has been mutually beneficial: Western corporations gained access to Russia’s vast energy reserves, while Russian firms received the financial and technological support crucial for maintaining their stranglehold on global energy markets.

The depths of this connection were laid bare during Rex Tillerson’s tenure as Secretary of State under the Trump administration. Tillerson, a former CEO of ExxonMobil, had extensive dealings with Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft and “de facto deputy” of the Russian tyrant. Even as Russia faced international sanctions for its annexation of Crimea, the ties between Big Oil and the Russian regime remained disturbingly strong, driven by an insatiable thirst for profit.

Tillerson putin sechin exxonmobil Russia big oil
Russian President Vladimir Putin with ExxonMobil Chairman of the Board Rex Tillerson. On the far right is Igor Sechin, President and Chairman of the Management Board of Rosneft. Photo: Kremlin.ru

Today, high oil prices bolster Russian energy exports, funneling billions into the Kremlin’s pockets and effectively underwriting its invasion of Ukraine. This isn’t just poor economics—it’s a direct subsidy for autocracy and violence. By propping up Putin and other petro-dictators, Big Oil is complicit in the suffering inflicted on countless innocent lives in Ukraine and beyond.

The relationship between Big Oil and the Kremlin is a sordid tale of greed and power.

Big Oil isn’t just complicit in environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and wars; it is the real axis of evil in modern politics. Its toxic influence perpetuates corruption, conflict, and environmental catastrophe for profit.

The fight for our planet’s future is intrinsically linked to the battle against the axis of evil formed by Big Oil and its autocratic allies.

It’s time to hold Big Oil accountable, just as we must hold Vladimir Putin accountable. Their current actions are not just “business as usual” —they are crimes against humanity and our shared future. Fossil fuel CEOs and their autocratic masters of dirty work like Putin are global arsonists and terrorists.

We need to fight them as if they are a dire threat to our survival. Because they are.

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