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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Russia spent $300m to influence politics abroad: US

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Washington: Russia has covertly spent more than $300 million since 2014 to influence politicians in more than 24 countries, the US has alleged.

The US Department of State’s allegation is based on a declassified intelligence assessment released on Tuesday.

The US intelligence assessment released in a cable did not name specific countries or officials believed to have been targeted by Russia – but said they spanned four continents.

The BBC quoted a senior official from President Joe Biden’s administration as saying: “We think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Russia has not publicly commented on the issue. Moscow itself has repeatedly accused the US of meddling abroad.

American intelligence “assesses that these are minimum figures and that Russia likely has transferred additional funds covertly in cases that have gone undetected”, said the Biden administration official during a phone briefing.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, the BBC report said.

The administration official said the US intelligence community was now privately briefing select countries on the alleged Russian covert financing. The briefings would remain confidential, the official added.

Fictitious companies were said to be used to fund European parties and to buy influence elsewhere.

The Russian authorities have so far made no public statements on the US claim.

Moscow has previously blamed America’s CIA intelligence agency for interfering in other countries’ affairs, including by backing various coups around the globe, the BBC said.

On Tuesday, state department spokesman Ned Price called Russia’s alleged covert funding an “assault on sovereignty”.

Last year, US intelligence officials assessed in a report that Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely to have authorised attempts to influence America’s 2020 election in favour of former President Donald Trump.

But it said no foreign government had compromised the final results. Russia called the allegations of election interference “baseless”.

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