Posts do not show 'Putin condemning Denmark for plundering Indonesian oil tanker'

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed millions of times in social media posts that claim it shows Russian President Vladimir Putin angrily condemning Danish authorities for "plundering" an Indonesian tanker after it collected oil from Russia. This is false; the footage shows a ship that was blocked off the coast of Denmark in March 2022 by Greenpeace activists who were calling for a ban on the import of fossil fuels from Russia. The clip of Putin was taken from an unrelated speech he gave in March 2021, in which he accused the West of trying to "cancel" Russian culture.

The 29-second video was shared on Facebook here on April 5, 2022. It has been viewed more than 790 times.

The first part of the video shows people in kayaks floating near a large oil tanker.

Indonesian-language text overlaid on to the video translates to English as: "Finally Putin has heard the news that the Indonesian Pertamina ship was plundered by Denmark".

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on April 18, 2022

The video cuts to a clip of Russian President Vladimir Putin making a speech.

Indonesian-language subtitles overlaid on the clip suggest he was making a statement directed at Denmark.

Translated to English, the subtitles read: "How dare you plunder the ship of my brother Pertamina Indonesia? You are looking for trouble with me. Your country is not safe, you have dared to take the oil which I gave to my brother Pertamina Indonesia."

Pertamina is Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company.

The video has been viewed more than 8.6 million times after it was shared on TikTok here, here, and here, and on YouTube here and here.

However, the claim in the video is false.

A reverse image search on Google found the original video, titled "Greenpeace Activists Block Tankers to Stop Oil Exchange", published on the YouTube channel of American news outlet Inside Edition on March 31, 2022.

Inside Edition's logo can be seen in the video in the misleading posts.

The video's caption reads in part: "It was a true David and Goliath matchup when environmentalists in kayaks tried to block a tanker from transferring oil to another tanker.

"Greenpeace activists placed themselves in between the two vessels in waters off the coast of Denmark in an attempt to stop the exchange, which they claim is helping to fund Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

"Since Russian forces invaded the sovereign nation in late February, many countries have imposed sanctions."

A dozen Greenpeace activists -- who were riding kayaks and swimming in the water off Denmark's coast -- blocked the transfer of Russian oil between two tankers on March 31, 2022, as reported by AFP here.

The environmental activists attempted to stop the Maltese-flagged Seaoath ship from approaching the Pertamina Prime, a tanker owned by Pertamina International Shipping, a subsidiary of Pertamina.

Greenpeace said it organised the action to call for a ban on the import of fossil fuels from Russia, following the country's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Danish police ended the 24-hour blockade on April 1, 2022.

Below is a screenshot comparison of stills taken from the video in the misleading post (left) and the original Inside Edition video (right):

Screenshot comparison between stills taken from the video in the misleading post (L) and the original Inside Edition video (R)

False subtitles

A reverse image search followed by keyword searches on Google found the video of Putin in the misleading posts matched footage from a video published on AFP's YouTube channel on March 25, 2022.

The video's title reads: "Putin likens attacks on Russian culture to Nazi book burnings | AFP".

The subtitles in the misleading video do not match Putin's comments -- translated from Russian to English language -- in the AFP video.

Online searches did not find any evidence of Putin making the statement about the Pertamina Indonesia ship attributed to him in the misleading post.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the clip in the misleading post (left) and the AFP video (right):

Screenshot comparison between the clip in the misleading post (L) and the AFP video (R)

The misleading video also includes a photo of Putin and a photo of another tanker, but neither relate to the Greenpeace protest.

The image of Putin is a Reuters photo taken during his press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow on February 7, 2022, weeks before the Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The picture of the tanker was published on the website of Pertamina International Shipping to illustrate "port to port sea freight services" -- and it actually shows another tanker, MT Fastron.

The photo has circulated online since at least 2021 in Indonesian-language news reports about the Pertamina subsidiary -- for example here and here.

Ukraine-Russia conflict