Russian political meddling documented in 27 countries



Russia has meddled in the affairs of at least 27 European and North American countries since 2004 with interference that ranges from cyberattacks to disinformation campaigns, according to an analysis by a surveillance organization:

The findings, provided to USA TODAY, show the meddling started in former Soviet republics allied with the West and spread to Western Europe. More recently affected are Canada and the United States, where Congress and an independent prosecutor are investigating possible Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The alleged Russian interference abroad was compiled by the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German Marshall Fund.

Russian tactics mirror those used by the Soviet Union against its own people, said Ben Nimmo, an analyst at the Atlantic Council’s DFR Labs. The Soviets used “massacres, the gulag prison system and the KGB intelligence service to intimidate and eliminate potential opponents inside the Soviet Union and outside its borders,” he said. “That is the system Putin came out of.”

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The political aim of state or non-state actors that conduct hybrid warfare is to preserve or create nondemocratic regimes and increase strategic options to enhance their power in international relations, according to a new Research Paper, “The Evolution of the Hybrid Threat, and Resilience as a Countermeasure”, by Uwe Hartmann.

Democratic states cannot guarantee complete security without becoming the enemies of their own open societies. Consequently, international organizations as well as state institutions, and even individuals, must somehow be prepared to absorb shocks, recover fast to counteract, and learn from the experience. In the best case, resilience can contribute to deterring further hybrid attacks, adds the paper, which also recommends “actively seeking the participation of civil society.”

As a tool in Russia’s “hybrid warfare” strategy, the Internet Research Agency — sometimes formerly known as the Internet Research center — employs hundreds of young Russians who conduct online information operations using fake social-media accounts in an attempt to distort political sentiment in Russia and abroad, RFE/RL adds.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy has built what it calls a “dashboard” that shows what a number of social media accounts linked to Russian government influence operations are posting, NPR adds. “It’s themes and messages and stories they seek to amplify, which they believe is in their interest one way or another,” said Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance.

Russian disinformation is a grave transnational threat, facilitating unacceptable aggression by Russia both at home and across the 57-nation OSCE region, notes the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission:

The following hearing will examine Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation, both domestically and abroad, as well as U.S. efforts to set the record straight with Russians, Ukrainians, and other speakers of Russian in the region.  Witnesses will also discuss the effectiveness of U.S. counter-measures across a variety of platforms; whether resources available correspond to the threat; and whether coordination amongst key players within the U.S. Government at the Department of State, Department of Defense, and USAID, and with European partners is adequate.  Finally, with German elections scheduled for September 24, one of the witnesses will highlight attempts by Russia to use NGOs and think tanks in Germany to try to influence the outcome.


  • John F. Lansing, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
  • Melissa Hooper, Director of Human Rights and Civil Society Programs, Human Rights First
  • Molly McKew, CEO, Fianna Strategies


Thursday, September 14, 2017
9:30 AM
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room 562

Capitol Hill

Washington, DC


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