Kremlin says U.S. is conducting a covert influence campaign against Russia

By Thomson Reuters Mar 15, 2024 | 5:27 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Friday said that the United States has been trying to conduct a covert influence campaign against the Russian authorities, but that Moscow’s security services had taken action to minimise its impact.

The Kremlin was commenting on a Reuters report that Donald Trump as U.S. president authorised the Central Intelligence Agency to launch a clandestine campaign on Chinese social media aimed at turning public opinion in China against its government.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the U.S. was currently trying to conduct a similar campaign against Russia, which is holding a presidential election between Friday and Sunday.

Incumbent Vladimir Putin, who is at odds with the West over the war in Ukraine, is expected to easily win another six-year term in office.

“One thing I can say is that we have experienced such activities for many years. The United States and the relevant agencies and intelligence services have been doing the same in our country and are still trying to do so,” Peskov told reporters.

“And only decisive actions to protect the domestic political landscape and our society from attempts at such interference have largely minimised the effectiveness of the work of the US special services. However, this does not mean that they are abandoning their attempts.”

Peskov said Washington might be running similar campaigns against the governments of other countries too.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service on Monday accused the United States of trying to meddle in Russia’s presidential election and said that Washington even had plans to launch a cyber attack on the online voting system.

The Kremlin last week said that Russia will not meddle in the November U.S. presidential election, and dismissed American findings that Moscow orchestrated campaigns to sway both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since the last day of 1999, has dropped a series of ironic remarks about the U.S. election, saying that he finds Joe Biden preferable as the next U.S. president to Donald Trump.

(Writing by Felix Light; editing by Guy Faulconbridge/Andrew Osborn)