U.S. intelligence found that Russia has spent more than $300 million on foreign political parties, officials and candidates since 2014 in order to influence them and create a more favorable world political climate, a senior Biden administration official said.
The official did not specify which countries are involved but said that the U.S. is sharing the relevant intelligence with them.
“We’re putting these foreign parties and candidates on notice that if they accept Russian money secretly, we can and we will expose it,” the senior administration official said.
The official said that the covert payments have been made to, at minimum, dozens of countries and that there could be additional cases that the U.S. does not know about yet. The payments were made via cash, cryptocurrency, electronic transfers, and gifts, the official said, going through foundations, tanks, organized crime groups, consultants, shell companies, Russian state-owned firms, and Russian embassy accounts.
One example given was a Russian oligarch trying to use pro-Russian European think tanks last year to support right-wing nationalist parties. Another example was a Russian ambassador in an Asian country giving millions in cash to a presidential candidate.
According to intelligence, Russia may use more covert funding in Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to undermine sanctions against the Kremlin and exert influence during the war with Ukraine.
Officials believe that in addition to the $300 million they already spent, Russia planned to spend hundreds of millions more.
The U.S. believes that other countries can use various methods other countries can use to lessen the effectiveness of Russia’s efforts. These include sanctions against those who enable them, travel bans against known actors, exposing people involved, and sharing information with other democratic countries.