February 25, 2024

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Washington says Russia paid $300 million to influence foreign elections

Washington says Russia paid $300 million to influence foreign elections

According to a U.S. intelligence estimate released Tuesday, Russia has sent at least $300 million to political parties and candidates in more than 20 countries since 2014.

The U.S. “considers these to be minimum estimates, and Russia may have secretly transferred much more undetected funds,” a senior U.S. official said.

“We think this is the tip of the iceberg,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

US intelligence did not name the countries involved. In the past, US officials have cited Bosnia or Ecuador as examples of countries where Russia has exerted direct influence through its economic power.

Among the most notable cases cited in this new analysis was a Russian ambassador stationed in an Asian country who gave millions of dollars to a presidential candidate.

In Europe, Moscow used fictitious contracts and front companies to finance political parties, while Russian state institutions provided funds to Central America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, according to Washington.

Russia sometimes sent money, but also used cryptocurrencies and “luxurious” gifts, according to reports.

Joe Biden’s administration requested this assessment from his services following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which led the United States to do everything to isolate Moscow and Kyiv.

The senior official said US diplomacy will share the findings with the governments of more than 100 other countries.

This new assessment does not analyze Russian interference in US politics.

But US intelligence agencies have previously accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US election, including using social media to support Donald Trump, who praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The U.S. is working hard to address “(their) weaknesses” and “encourages other countries to do the same and join (them) in this important effort,” the official said.

An internal State Department document addressed to US representatives abroad confirms that Russia conducted the fundraising campaign to “increase its influence over individuals and parties” and then ensure they “get good results at the polls”.

U.S. allegations of interference are often derided by Russian officials who suggest that U.S. intelligence agencies support coups in Iran or Chile.