The Russia Investigations: What You Need To Know About Russian 'Active Measures' | WGLT

The Russia Investigations: What You Need To Know About Russian 'Active Measures'

Apr 25, 2018
Originally published on July 20, 2018 8:10 pm

Updated July 20, 2018

What are "active measures?"

The Russian government launched a broad influence campaign against the United States starting in 2014. Intelligence professionals call it the latest examples of "active measures," secret tools of statecraft that have been used for centuries and were employed throughout the Cold War.

In recent years they have included many interlocking elements:

Why did the Russians do this?

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely had several reasons for ordering the campaign.

  • He was angry at what he viewed as American interference in Ukraine, in Russia's front yard, under former President Barack Obama.
  • He bore a longstanding personal animus against Clinton from her tenure as secretary of state and probably feared the policies she'd adopt toward Russia if she had been elected.
  • Putin said in Helsinki on July 16, 2018, that he supported Trump's election because he welcomed Trump's promise of better relations with Russia.
  • By the 2016 election cycle in the U.S., Putin may have believed the United States had launched an influence campaign against him before he launched the one against it and other countries in the West.

Putin probably also wanted simply to sow chaos and undermine faith in democracy across the West — Russia also has attacked other elections in Western Europe — and exacerbate political divisions that already were becoming inflamed.

How do we know?

Russia's support for Trump was open — Putin spoke about it as did government-controlled or aligned sources. Plus the U.S. intelligence community reportedly had a human source close to Putin that confirmed his instructions to interfere in the election.

There also is a wealth of signals intelligence, including intercepted communications between Russian officials or between Russians and others.

Part of that has underpinned indictments brought by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller against a number of Russians connected with social media agitation and cyberattacks.

Other open evidence includes extensive congressional testimony and a leaked report by the National Security Agency that documented a cyberattack on an elections vendor by Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Could it happen again?

It never stopped, say the heads of the top U.S. intelligence agencies. Russian cyberattacks continue and Russia also keeps using social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, to turn up the volume on political controversy within the United States. And the creation of what could be provocative fraudulent materials could also still be underway.

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