US espionage: The Kremlin is interfering in the election to harm Biden and help Trump and the "agent of chaos"

2024-07-10 18:20:25Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Putin and Trump

WASHINGTON - Russia is returning to a familiar script in its efforts to influence the outcome of the upcoming US presidential election as it looks for ways to help former President Donald Trump's candidacy by discrediting the President's campaign. Joe Biden, according to US intelligence officials.

A new threat assessment for the November election, which was shared with reporters, does not mention any candidates by name. But an intelligence official told reporters that the Kremlin's view of the American political scene has not changed from previous election cycles.

"We have not seen any change in terms of Russian preferences in the presidential race compared to past elections," the official told reporters, agreeing to speak on the report on condition of anonymity.

The official said that this preference has been reinforced because of "the role of the United States with regard to Ukraine and the general policy towards Russia."

This warning from US intelligence officials comes nearly four years after a similar warning was made in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, during which then-President Trump was running against Mr Biden.

Moscow is using "a series of measures first and foremost to discredit former Vice President Biden and what it considers an anti-Russian 'political class'," the former head of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center said at the time. , William Evanina.

"Some Kremlin-linked actors are also aiming to help President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television," he added.

A post-election assessment report, published in March 2021, confirmed the initial findings. Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized "influence operations aimed at discrediting the candidacy of President Biden and the Democratic Party" while offering support to Mr. Trump, according to the report.

US intelligence officials said they are communicating with both presidential campaign teams and candidates, but declined to say what kind of information was shared with them.

Mr. Trump's denial

Mr Trump's campaign on Tuesday dismissed the assessment by US intelligence officials as outlandish.

"Vladimir Putin endorsed Mr. Joe Biden for president because he knows Biden is weak and can be easily intimidated, as evidenced by Putin's years-long attack on Ukraine," the spokeswoman said in a written response to VOA. of Mr. Trump's campaign, Caroline Leavitt.

"When President Trump was in the White House, Russia and all of America's enemies backed off because they were afraid of how the United States would respond," she said.

"The only people in America who don't see this stark contrast between Mr. Biden's useless weakness and Mr. Trump's effective peace-through-strength approach are the leftist stenographers in the mainstream media who make their living writing false theories about Donald Trump. ,” she added.

Mr Biden's campaign team has not yet responded to VOA's request for comment about the new US rating.

Russian sophistication

Russian officials have also not yet responded to VOA's requests for comment on the latest allegations, which accuse the Kremlin of using an "institutional" approach to help Mr. Trump and other U.S. candidates that Moscow deems favorable. to win in the November elections.

"Moscow is using several different approaches to reinforce this message and lend a veneer of authenticity to its efforts," the US intelligence official said. "This includes delegating her efforts to commercial firms to cover her tracks and using influential American personalities to spread her theories."

Russia's efforts also appear to have targeted American voters in so-called undecided states that are expected to influence the outcome of the presidential election, officials say.

Some of these efforts have already been identified.

Russia and artificial intelligence

The US Department of Justice on Tuesday morning announced that it has seized two websites and 968 accounts on social platform X, part of what officials describe as a project by Russian intelligence agencies and Russia's state media platform RT using artificial intelligence.

A statement from the Department of Justice said that Russian intelligence agencies and the RT media network used a specific artificial intelligence computer program to create real-looking social media accounts to impersonate Americans "which were then used by operators to spread messages that coincide with the objectives of the Russian government.”

In a joint statement released simultaneously by the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, these countries warned that Russia is in the process of expanding its influence operations with the help of artificial intelligence to other network platforms. social.

The US intelligence official described such use of artificial intelligence as an "accelerator for the exercise of malicious influence" and warned that the technology is already likely to be used by China in the run-up to Taiwan's elections in January.

China in waiting

Currently, US intelligence officials have seen few signs that Beijing is aiming to interfere in US elections, as it did in 2020 and 2022.

China "sees little benefit in choosing between two parties that it sees as wanting to contain Beijing," the US intelligence official said, adding that things could change.

"China is aiming to expand its capacity to collect and monitor data on US social media platforms, certainly to better understand and eventually manipulate public opinion," the official said. "Also, we're looking at whether China will try to influence certain statewide races like it did in the midterm congressional elections in 2022."

The Chinese embassy in Washington, which has rejected the United States' claims in the past, responded by calling the United States "the biggest disseminator of disinformation."

"China has no intention of interfering in the US election, and we hope the US side will not turn China into an electoral issue," spokesman Liu Pengyu told VOA in a written response.

"Agent of Chaos"

A new report assessing threats to US elections warns that alongside concerns about Russia and China, there is increasing evidence that Iran is aiming to play the role of "agent of chaos" in the next US election.

"Iran is aiming to foment social discord and undermine confidence in American democratic institutions around the election," according to a version of the assessment report that was previously classified.

The report also warned that Tehran "has long shown an interest in exploiting political and social tensions in the United States through various means, including social media."

As an example, officials on Tuesday referred to declassified intelligence reports indicating that Iran is trying to exploit pro-Gaza protests in the United States.

"We have seen actors affiliated with the government of Iran posing as activists on social media, inciting protests and providing financial support to protesters," said Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Ms. Haines said that Americans who have communicated with Iranian actors "may not be aware that they are communicating with or receiving support from a foreign government."

Iranian officials have not yet responded to VOA's request for comment./ VOA