Before he exposed Russia’s interference in the U.S. election, former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele conducted a secret investigation, which he called Project Charlemagne, for a private client, The New Yorker reports:
It involved a survey of Russian interference in the politics of four members of the European Union—France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany—along with Turkey, a candidate for membership. The report chronicles persistent, aggressive political interference by the Kremlin: social-media warfare aimed at inflaming fear and prejudice, and “opaque financial support” given to favored politicians in the form of bank loans, gifts, and other kinds of support. … The Kremlin’s long-term aim, the report concludes, was to boost extremist groups and politicians at the expense of Europe’s liberal democracies. RTWT
As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy, The New York Times reports:
As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts…… After The New York Times, following a report on the issue by Politico in August, began asking about the delayed money, the State Department announced on Monday that the Pentagon had agreed to transfer $40 million for the effort, just a third of what was originally intended.
The center’s uncertain funding and temporary leadership reflected the administration’s lack of interest in countering either jihadist or Russian propaganda, said James K. Glassman, the under secretary for public diplomacy during the George W. Bush administration.
“They’ve got the vehicle to do this work in the center,” Glassman said. “What they don’t have is a secretary of state or a president who’s interested in doing this work.”
This month marks the fourth anniversary of Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea, an event that shocked the world and shook European faith in the post-Cold War security order, notes Peter Apps, founder and executive director of the Project for the Study of the 21st Century. In retrospect, it has become clear that, for Putin, annexing the peninsula was not so much an end goal as a declaration of future intent, an early escalation in a broader and more ambitious effort that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently termed, with little obvious exaggeration, Russia’s “World Hybrid War” on Western democracy itself, he writes for Reuters.