Donald Trump ‘ignoring’ chance to fight against Putin interference regime on Europe | World | News


Countries around the globe are at risk of the Kremlin spreading malicious fake news, fuelling corruption and even assassinating political enemies, the report said.

The US has the muscle power to lead a global fight against Russia, but has so far ignored the “international threat” and instead proposed cuts to dedicated strategic operations, the report said.

The 206-page document, written by the minority Senate foreign relations committee, said: “Vladimir Putin has used the security services, the media, public and private companies, organised criminal groups, and social and religious organisations to spread malicious disinformation, interfere in elections, fuel corruption, threaten energy security, and more. 

“At their most extreme, the Russian government’s security services have been used to harass and even assassinate political enemies at home and abroad; cheat at the Olympic Games; and protect and exploit cybercriminals in Russia who attack American businesses and steal the financial information of American consumers. 

“Mr. Putin resorts to the use of these asymmetric tools to achieve his goals because he is operating from a position of weakness—hobbled by a faltering economy, a substandard military, and few followers on the world stage.”

The report urged Mr Trump to look beyond the European Union, NATO, and other powerful member states’ ministries to develop tactical responses to Putin’s assault on democratic institutions and values across Europe.

Instead he should build a strategy for “education ministries, civil society, and independent news organisations” to front the defence against Russian interference.

The report entitled ‘Putin’s asymmetric assault on democracy in Russia and Europe’, said: “Monitoring and countering propaganda alone will never be sufficient. 

“While a whole-of-government approach is necessary to identify the threat and sound the trumpet, a whole-of-society approach is necessary to neutralise it.

“But the Trump administration has also proposed cuts to assistance across Europe that could help counter the Kremlin’s malign influence, especially in the areas of good governance, anti-corruption, and independent media efforts.”

The report describes the Kremlin’s strategy towards various European countries, with a particular focus on Hungary as the EU’s weak link.

According to the report, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has welcomed Russian propaganda in his eastern-European country, as “it aligns with the themes that he promotes”, such as being anti-EU, anti-US and anti-migrant.

It said: “Within the EU and NATO, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is perhaps the most supportive leader of Putin, his style of leadership, and his worldview”.

It added: “Russia has exploited this relatively unimpeded access by flooding Hungary with pro-Kremlin and anti-western propaganda and reportedly providing support to far-right political parties and fringe militant groups.”

According to the report, the Kremlin also views the Nordic nations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland as “a favourite target of Kremlin’s propaganda machine when it comes to asserting that the West is in a state of moral decline.”

In Italy, “some of the anti-establishment parties are strong advocates of pro-Kremlin foreign policies, and have extensively used fake news and conspiracy theories in their media campaigns, often drawn from Russian state-owned media outlets”.

The vulnerability of Italy, which holds its general election in March, may be seen as an opportunity for the Kremlin to promote an election outcome that could weaken the public’s opinion of the EU.

Currently the right-wing parties are meeting to discuss forming a grand-coalition.

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