US Says Russia Spent Millions on Covert Global Political Campaign

Russia has secretly given at least $300 million to foreign political parties and candidates from more than two dozen countries since 2014 in an effort to shape political events beyond its borders, according to a new U.S. intelligence review.

According to a review commissioned by the Biden administration this summer, Moscow plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more as part of its covert campaign to weaken democratic institutions and empower global political forces seen as aligned with Kremlin interests.

A senior U.S. official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence findings, said the administration decided to declassify some of the review’s findings in an effort to counter Russia’s ability to sway political systems in countries in Europe. Africa and elsewhere.

“By shining this light on Russian covert political funding and Russian efforts to undermine democratic processes, we will expose these foreign parties and candidates who secretly accept Russian money,” the official said.

Countries where such measures have been identified include Albania, Montenegro, Madagascar and Ecuador, according to an administration source familiar with the matter.

Officials pointed to an Asian country, which they declined to name, where they said a Russian ambassador gave millions of dollars in cash to a presidential candidate. They said Kremlin-linked forces also use shell companies, think tanks and other means to influence political events, sometimes to the benefit of far-right groups.

The U.S. government detected a spike in Russian covert political funding in 2014, the senior official said. The review did not address Russian activities within the United States.

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Both ratings are U.S Intelligence agencies and A Bipartisan Senate Inquiry Russia under President Vladimir Putin launched a meddling campaign to help then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

A State Department approach on Monday It briefed US embassies in more than 100 countries about Russia’s alleged actions and recommended steps the US could take to push back, including economic sanctions, travel bans or the expulsion of Russian spies involved in political financing activities.

The cable, which officials released to reporters, involved what it said were Russian oligarchs, including Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Aleksandr Babakov, in what it described as “financial schemes.” Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef,” was indicted by U.S. authorities in 2018 after making large sums of money in Russian government catering contracts. It tried to interfere in the 2016 US election. He is linked to the private military firm Wagner and is wanted by the FBI.

US diplomats brief counterparts in other countries about the operations, which US officials believe could go beyond identified countries and amounts.

“We think this is the tip of the iceberg,” the senior official said. “So instead of sitting on the sidelines, we’re sharing these response measures.”

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