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US says Russia has sent $300 mln to meddle in elections



The United States has reported that Russia has covertly sent at least $300 million to foreign political parties and candidates in more than two dozen countries since 2014 in an effort to gain influence.

US intelligence believes this is only the tip of the iceberg and that Russia has likely transferred additional funds undetected.

According to the assessment, Russia has used fictitious contracts and shell companies to fund political parties in Europe, and its state-owned companies have directly funneled covert funding to Central America, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The US has also reported that the Russian ambassador in an unnamed Asian country provided millions of dollars to a presidential candidate. Furthermore, Russia has been known to use crypto-currencies and lavish gifts to gain influence.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of this year, US President Joe Biden has requested an assessment and US diplomats have begun sharing their findings with governments in more than 100 countries.

This is part of Biden’s “Summit of Democracies” initiative, which was launched after he defeated Donald Trump.

The US intelligence assessment did not cover domestic US politics, but previously US intelligence said that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election, notably through manipulation of social media, to support Trump.

The US is working hard to address its own vulnerabilities and is encouraging other countries to do the same. The State Department has issued a demarche, or internal statement, to US missions around the world that Russia has carried out a covert campaign in a bid to shift foreign environments to its favor.

The statement said that the hidden relationships between these parties and their Russian benefactors undermine the integrity of, and public faith in, democratic institutions.

Russian officials have long scoffed at US allegations of meddling, noting that the CIA has a long history of backing coups in nations such as Iran and Chile. The US official rejected any comparison between Russia’s alleged efforts to contemporary US practices such as funding election monitors and non-governmental pro-democracy groups.

US assistance is transparent and they do not support a particular party or candidate; it is about democratic governance and trying to help other democracies strengthen democratic governance.

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