REPORT: MOSCOW BUYING POLITICIANS
Russia is conducting so-called influence operations in Europe that include funding pro-Russia politicians, according to a report by the Virginia-based Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, a think tank.
“Despite sanctions crippling the Russian economy and its currency in tailspin, the Russian government has increased monetary support for politicians throughout Europe,” the report states.
Moscow also has spent millions of euros to influence elections, and U.S. intelligence officials have warned that Russian strategic influence operations are underway in France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic.
“Russia has reportedly also given funding to far-right groups, including Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, and the National Front in France,” the report by CI Centre lead analyst Mihkel Smit states.
Russian intelligence and cyberoperations also are increasing across Europe and the United States, the report said. “In counterintelligence reports, several European nations have warned that they are vulnerable to Russian cyberespionage.”
Traditional Russia espionage also is increasing and was described as aggressively operating at the highest levels since the end of the Cold War. The Russian spies are targeting NATO intelligence and defense information. Key locations appear to be new NATO members in a bid to circumvent more established counterintelligence services in older alliance members.
One Russian spy ring was uncovered operating in Lithuania in December 2014, when an officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, known as FSB, was identified as seeking to influence senior Lithuanian government officials.
Russian spies and intelligence officers were uncovered in Germany (2015), Poland (2014), the Netherlands (2012) and the United States (2015).
“Russia has also repeatedly attempted to acquire U.S. military technology, including an FSB-directed operation in Houston that shipped $50 million worth of microelectronics and other sensitive technologies to Russian military and intelligence entities between 1998 and 2012,” the report said.