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Russia spent $300 million secretly interfering in foreign politics, U.S. says

Moscow has covertly funded political parties, officials and politicians in at least two dozen nations across four continents since 2014, according to a newly declassified intelligence review.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine recently.Gavriil Grigorov / Sputnik via AP

Russia has spent more than $300 million in a global campaign to influence foreign political events, according to a newly declassified U.S. intelligence review.

Moscow has covertly funded political parties, officials and politicians in at least two dozen nations across four continents since 2014, the U.S. said Tuesday, as the Kremlin’s role in other countries’ affairs comes under greater scrutiny after its invasion of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden’s administration is sharing details of the review with 110 countries as part of its campaign to expose Russia’s actions by making them public.

The countries where election interference was attempted include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and the east African island nation of Madagascar, according to a source familiar with the review who was not authorized to speak publicly.

“What Russia is doing around the world in terms of its election meddling is also an assault on sovereignty, is an effort to chip away at the ability of people around the world to choose the governments that they see best fit, to represent them to represent their interests, to represent their values,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday, without going into details on the intelligence assessment.

“Part of our charge, not only is to do that assessment and to collect and to do that analysis, but then to expose what we know,” he added.

The review also found Russia is expected to continue the covert financing of foreign political parties and candidates in the coming months as President Vladimir Putin attempts to both maintain his global influence in the wake of the war in Ukraine and undermine international sanctions, a senior administration official said Tuesday on a call with reporters.

The U.S. intelligence community will also be briefing select countries on Russia’s targeting of their specific political environments, according to the official, including how best to counter that challenge.

Russia has long been accused of — and always denied — interference in foreign affairs. A federal grand jury indictment in 2018 found that a group of Russian disinformation actors had a monthly budget of $1.2 million to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and fuel what it called "information warfare."

The newly released intelligence assessment did not include the effectiveness of the Russian funds and did not cover Moscow’s interference in U.S. elections.

The Biden White House has previously taken the unusual step of declassifying intelligence about the Kremlin's plans.

A stream of intel assessments warning that Putin was planning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine earlier this year ultimately proved correct.

The administration has even released intelligence that was less than rock solid in an attempt to keep Moscow off balance, officials have said.

More recently the U.S. said that Russia is buying North Korean rockets and artillery in Ukraine.

CIA Director William Burns said last week that this strategy had proven effective.

Russia has suffered severe setbacks in its Ukrainian military campaign in the last week, with Kyiv's forces retaking vast swaths of territory, including several key cities, as Russian troops retreat in the country's east.