“During the investigation, the SC found that Russia secretly transferred more than 300 million dollars and planned to secretly transfer at least hundreds of millions more to foreign political parties, officials and politicians in more than two dozen countries and on four continents during this period. “, the official told reporters, adding that “Russia probably secretly transferred additional funds in cases that went unnoticed.”

Russia is driven by “an attempt to benefit from certain political parties and undermine democracy in all these countries,” the official said. “In our opinion, one of the most effective ways to counter Russian covert influence is exposure.”

The findings of a review ordered by Biden administration officials earlier this summer were downplayed so the information could be shared with the public and allies around the world, the official said.

The US shared the findings, as well as steps that can be taken to combat this threat, with countries invited to the Summit for Democracy in December. The US is also quietly informing affected countries.

“The US intelligence community privately informs individual countries about covert funding from Russia in their specific political environment. We keep these briefings secret, given the confidentiality of the data, and to give these countries the opportunity to improve the integrity of the elections in private,” the official said. .

The Biden administration hopes that the public sharing of this information will have a number of benefits, including: raising global awareness of the threat of covert political financing from Russia, forcing other countries to return to the US with their own information about Russian operations, and clarifying that Russia’s hidden political influence is “a global phenomenon that requires coordinated action,” the official said.

Russia and the parties it supports have also been put on “notice” now that this information has become public.

“By highlighting this hidden political funding from Russia and Russia’s attempts to subvert democratic processes, we are letting these foreign parties and candidates know that if they are secretly accepting Russian money, we can and will expose it. So we really see this multifaceted benefit of sharing this IC research in the way that we do,” the official said.

The “Grand Challenge” of the USA

CNN previously reported that US officials are bracing for a mix of foreign interference and domestic disinformation campaigns about the voting process as the midterms approach.

In July, the Biden administration announced sanctions against Russia over its global “malign influence” and election interference operations. The announcement came a day after the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program announced a reward of up to $10 million for information about Russian trolls. a farm known as the Internet Research Agency, headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “and linked Russian organizations and associates for their involvement in meddling in the US election.”

The IRA, which was known for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, had a monthly budget of $1.25 million in the midst of that election, according to a 2018 Justice Department indictment against the group and its operatives. Facebook, meanwhile, revealed in 2017 that Russian trolls paid more than $100,000 to advertise on its platform during the 2016 election.

A senior administration official on Tuesday zeroed in on US vulnerability, saying “Russian covert political influence poses a major challenge for the United States.”

The Biden administration believes it is important to recognize that Russian interference is not only a special challenge for the United States.

“The goal of this spotlight campaign is to reach beyond the United States without denying that this is our concern and vulnerability. But we wanted to use the image campaign to place our context in the broader context of the challenge of Russia’s hidden political influence, which is global in nature, as the SC analysis shows,” the official said.

“It’s clear to us that it’s ongoing, it’s pervasive, it’s global,” the administration’s representative said of Russia’s covert political operations.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent a cable to embassies around the world on Monday detailing the findings of this review by the intelligence community.

Russia’s global involvement has been documented in some cases, including in Bosnia, Montenegro, and Albania. Blinken’s cable said the US intelligence community’s review included Russian interference in more than two dozen countries.

“For Russia, the benefits of ‘hidden political funding’ are twofold: developing influence over individuals and parties who benefit, and increasing the likelihood that these parties will perform well in elections. The hidden relations between these parties and their Russian benefactors will undermine the integrity of democratic institutions and the public’s faith in them,” says the dispatch.

Blinken detailed Russian meddling methods, including lavish gifts, cash or cryptocurrency, moving funds through shell companies and think tanks, and using Russian embassy accounts and resources.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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