US: Russia Spent $300 Million to Secretly Influence World Politics – News

State Department Releases Cable Citing Intelligence Assessment of Secret Russian Efforts to Support Moscow Sympathetic Parties



Russian President Vladimir Putin. — AP file

By AP

Published: Tue Sep 13, 2022 10:44 PM

Russia has secretly spent more than $300 million since 2014 trying to influence politicians and other officials in more than two dozen countries, the State Department claims in a recently released cable.

The cable, signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and released on Tuesday, cites a new intelligence assessment of Russia’s covert global efforts to support pro-Moscow policies and parties. The cable does not name specific Russian targets, but does indicate that the United States provides classified information to certain countries.

It is the latest effort by the Biden administration to declassify intelligence about Moscow’s military and political objectives, dating back to ultimately correct assessments that Russia would launch a new war against Ukraine. Many of President Joe Biden’s top national security officials have extensive experience fighting Moscow and served in government when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched broad campaigns to influence the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections.

A senior administration official declined to say how much money Russia may have spent in Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelensky and his top aides have long accused Putin of meddling in domestic politics. The official noted allegations of Russian influence in recent elections in Albania, Bosnia and Montenegro, all of which were once part of the former Soviet Union.

Unlike foreign governments’ stated efforts to lobby for favorite initiatives, Russia’s covert influence involved the use of front organizations to funnel money to favorite causes or politicians, according to the cable. . This includes think tanks in Europe and public companies in Central America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Throughout its history, the United States has also secretly funded political groups and been responsible for efforts to overthrow or undermine foreign governments. The official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity under rules established by the administration, dismissed comparisons between Russia’s activities and current US funding of media and political initiatives.

Putin was spending huge sums “in an attempt to manipulate democracies from within”, the official said.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The State Department took the unusual step of releasing a diplomatic cable that was sent Monday to numerous US embassies and consulates abroad, including many in Europe, Africa and South Asia, outlining the concerns.

The cable, which was marked “sensitive” and not intended for foreign audiences but was unclassified, contained a series of talking points that US diplomats were instructed to raise with their host governments regarding a alleged Russian interference. Among the measures diplomats have been asked to recommend are sanctions, travel bans and exposure of secret funding.

According to the cable, intelligence officials believe Russia planned to transfer “at least hundreds of millions of additional dollars” in funding to sympathetic parties and officials around the world.

The cable does not say how intelligence officials arrived at the total figure of $300 million. Nor does it address fears that Russia or other adversaries may again try to interfere in US policy.

Official reporters noted that Biden recently extended a national emergency declaration amid the continued threat of foreign election interference.

“We promote coordination with our Democratic peers,” the official said. “And we will share lessons learned, all to advance our collective election security, but also our election security here at home.”

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