A latest United States intelligence report found that during the past eight years, Russia has secretly funneled at least $300 million to foreign political parties and candidates in more than twenty countries, intending to influence international politics. This summer, the Biden government commissioned a report that showed Russia planned to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on its covert campaigns to undermine democratic systems and promote worldwide political forces aligned with Kremlin interests.
There has been a secret Russian effort to influence political events in more than 2 dozen nations over the past 8 years by funneling at least $300m to foreign political parties and candidates to shape political events beyond its borders, according to a new US intelligence report. pic.twitter.com/7gcKTvPuqO
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) September 14, 2022
In an interview with reporters Tuesday under the condition of anonymity, a senior U.S. official discussed intelligence findings with reporters, saying the administration had decided to declassify some of the review’s findings to counter Russian influence over political systems in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. However, this revelation of Russian covert financing and Russian efforts to undermine democratic processes warns foreign parties and candidates that the U.S. can and will expose them if they accept Russian money secretly as part of their campaign financing.
According to an administration source familiar with the matter, such activities were identified in Albania, Montenegro, Madagascar, and possibly Ecuador. In addition, officials claimed that the Russian ambassador had given millions of dollars in cash to a presidential candidate in one Asian country, which they declined to name. Shell companies, think tanks, and Kremlin-linked forces have also used other Kremlin-linked sources to influence political events.
Russia Initiated a Political Campaign to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections
In 2014, the U.S. administration observed an increase in Russian covert political funding. Russia’s activities in the U.S. were not considered in the review. In the wake of a bipartisan Senate investigation and assessments by both U.S. spy agencies, both concluded that Russia under President Vladimir Putin attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. According to the latest reports, the Kremlin was running a political influence campaign while the United States was bolstering Ukrainian military support in their war against Russia.
Since early this year, the White House has taken the unusual step of repeatedly releasing declassified intelligence related to Moscow’s intentions and actions related to Ukraine, part of an attempt to push back on Putin’s ambitions there and counteract what U.S. officials have described as Russian disinformation operations. Moreover, U.S. embassies in more than 100 countries were sent a State Department message Monday describing the alleged Russian activities and suggesting actions that Americans and their allies could take in response, including sanctions, travel bans, and expulsion of Russian spies involved in political financing.
According to a cable provided to reporters, Russia’s Federal Security Service and its officials oversee political financing in Russia. According to the report, Russian oligarchs, including Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Aleksandr Babakov, are linked to “financing schemes.” In 2018, U.S. officials charged Prigozhin with attempting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections after he made vast sums in catering contracts for the Russian government. He was known as “Putin’s chef” for his immense catering contracts with the Russian government. There are accusations that he is involved with the private military firm Wagner and that the FBI wanted him.
Moscow Also Used Crypto Currency to Shape Global Political Events
According to the cable, Russian embassies often used the accounts and resources of their embassies to use cryptocurrency, cash, and gifts as political sway in foreign countries. According to it, Russia may continue to rely on its covert influence tools in Asia, Central & South America, the Middle East, and Africa in the coming months, including secret political financing, to undermine international sanctions and maintain influence in these regions despite its ongoing Ukrainian conflict.
American diplomats are informing counterparts abroad of the activities, which American officials believe may extend well beyond the countries and previously identified sums. But, maybe it’s just the beginning,” said the senior official. That is why the U.S. shares these measures rather than sit on the sidelines.” In addition, the United States is asking partner nations to provide information regarding Russian financing to the Biden administration to understand better what Russia is doing.
However, despite the review not addressing Russian efforts to influence American politics, the senior official acknowledged that the issue remains a significant challenge that will require ongoing efforts to ensure the integrity of U.S. elections and political systems. This vulnerability also exists in the U.S., the official said.
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