The chief editor of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, dismissively equated a report commissioned by Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to “a dull student report.”
The 200 page report cites exhaustive detail and is deeply sourced, with 20 pages alone of source citations.
Titled “Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security” and published by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 10, the report investigates Russia’s interference in political and electoral processes of “semi-consolidated” and “fully-consolidated” democracies in Europe. It does not examine Russia’s meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, which was the subject of a report by the U.S. intelligence community published in January 2017, and is currently being investigated by several congressional committees and a Department of Justice special counsel.
“As the extent of Russia’s obvious meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continues to be investigated, it is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin’s pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe. That is why I commissioned this report shortly after the 2016 election,” Cardin said in a press release.
The report alleges that the Kremlin has been seeking to undermine democratic processes and values in Europe and Russia using a variety of tools “perfected” over the years, and makes a series of recommendations to protect the countries from the “asymmetric assault.”
“Such tools – drawn largely from a Soviet-era playbook, but updated with new technologies – include military incursions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime and corruption,” Cardin said.
The Kremlin has consistently denied interfering in the U.S. election or the affairs of other countries.
“We can only voice regret over the continuing campaign [against Russia] and once again recall that so far all these concerns, all the accusations against our country of meddling have had no grounds and are absolutely unfounded," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.
However, as Polygraph.info has previously reported, Russia has been accused or proven guilty of interfering in the affairs of a number of countries, including Georgia, Ukraine, Montenegro, France, Spain, and the United States, among many others.
In “semi-consolidated” democracies, Cardin’s report notes, Russia has engaged in cyberwarfare (e.g. Estonia), disinformation (entire Europe), and military force (Ukraine and Georgia) to weaken the resolve of those countries to pursue deeper ties with the EU or NATO.
It has been accused of plotting a coup in Montenegro after failing to sway elections in its favor, and using energy resources and cultural links in Serbia to impede its Western integration.
Russia reportedly relies on disinformation and support to political parties in Europe in an alleged attempt to cause rifts within the EU between western and eastern members of the bloc.
Moscow has also been accused of seeking to undermine the ties between the EU and the U.S. to ease the pressure from sanctions imposed by of the U.S. and its European allies for annexing Crimea – a move deemed illegal by most nations in a UN General Assembly vote.
According to a study by Canadian scholars quoted by RIA Novosti, since 1991 Russia has interfered in foreign elections 27 times. An analysis by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy confirmed as much, noting that Russia has used a number of tools to meddle in the affairs of at least 27 European and North American countries since 2004.
On February 2, Britain’s Defense Minister Michael Fallon urged Western nations to “do more to tackle the false reality” Russian government-run media are allegedly creating. “We see a country that, in weaponizing misinformation, has created what we might see now as the post-truth age,” Fallon stated.
And U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Committee emails allegedly showing party leaders favoring the candidacy of Hillary Clinton over challenger Bernie Sanders and interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential election in an alleged attempt to help the now sitting president, Donald Trump, win.
On October 7, 2016, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement saying that Russia was responsible for the email intrusions, though it did not disclose the details of the allegations.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” it said, adding that the hacking originated from servers run by a Russian firm.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on November 8, 2017 that “not a single Russian connection has been found” in the hacking or alleged poll interference: “All the connections that have been found are internal, including at the Democratic National Committee, where an insider interfered with the process and leaked information to the rivals.”
However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on January 6, released a declassified version of a U.S. intelligence community assessment compiled by the CIA, FBI, and NSA detailing Russian cyber and information operations relating to the election. The report listed RT and Sputnik as the main tools used to influence public opinion in the U.S. election.
The report states: “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
The head of the CIA Mike Pompeo, speaking in April 2017, said the report also found that RT, the Russian government-funded broadcaster, “has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.”
The report also said that the U.S. detected Russian cyber-intrusion into the computer systems of multiple state and local electoral boards but found no evidence of tampering with vote tallies.
Another NSA report, dated May 2017, details Russian cyberattacks on a company that provided voting software used in the elections, as well as more than a hundred local election officials.