Hanif Ghafari

The United States and the Upcoming Russian Presidential Election

Date of publication : January 26, 2018 21:41 pm
A woman pushes a stroller while passing by a billboard with an image of Russia
A woman pushes a stroller while passing by a billboard with an image of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and lettering 'Strong president - Strong Russia!' in Simferopol, Crimea, on January 18, 2018

Russia's national election is being held while the United States is trying to interfere in its internal affairs.
In other words, the Russian authorities have repeatedly warned the United States about Russia's internal affairs. Recently Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned US officials about this. However, American politicians seem to try to continue their intervention in Russia. The ambitious goal of US officials is to weaken Russia's power in the international system.
Meanwhile, American media are also trying to send incorrect addresses about Russian general elections. An overview of the recent report by the American newspaper US Today shows this.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has engaged in a nearly 20-year assault on democratic institutions in Russia and on US allies in Europe, and poses a threat to future American elections, according to the first US government report to address the issue.
The report, produced by the Democratic staff on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, alleges a range of aggressive Russian behavior abroad that employs military invasions, cyber-attacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups and the manipulation of energy resources, organized crime and corruption across Europe.
“If the United State fails to work with urgency to address this complex and growing threat, the regime in Moscow will become further emboldened,” the report said. “It will continue to develop and refine its arsenal to use against democracies around the world, including against US elections in 2018 and 2020.”
The 206-page document makes only a passing reference to Russia’s role in the 2016 US presidential election, which is still under several investigations by the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives. Former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether there was any collusion between candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials, has charged four former Trump aides, and is expected soon to seek an interview with the president.
Democratic committee staffers who presented the report to journalists Tuesday said the document shows that what happened in 2016 was not an isolated incident. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, called on Trump to lead the charge against Russia. “When you attack a country you’re not at war with, that’s an act of war,” Cardin said. 
He criticized Trump, saying the president has ignored the Russian threat. “The current president of the United States has barely acknowledged the threat,” Cardin said. “Never before has a US president ignored such a clear and present threat.”
Trump on Wednesday assailed the Russia investigation as a distraction, a waste of time and a "witch hunt" — and called on Congressional Republicans to do something about it.
Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, are leading three separate congressional investigations into Russia's interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates. 
Micah Johnson, communications director for the foreign relations committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the committee received the Democrats' report and will review it, but "no further full committee activity is planned at this time."
Over 200 journalists around the world were targets of phishing emails by the Russian hacking group “Fancy Bear” during the 2016 election.
Corker has worked with the Senate Banking Committee to expand sanctions against Russia "in response to its continued aggression, including its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections," Johnson said.
President Putin and his administration have steadfastly denied any meddling in such things as the 2016 US presidential election.
The Democratic report describes how President Putin, who is running for re-election in March, has used a combination of propaganda and suppression to maintain public support for Russia’s wars abroad, and how he used a range of similar techniques abroad. It describes:
- A still-unsolved bombing campaign of apartment buildings that left hundreds of civilians dead across Russia, which began three weeks after President Putin became prime minister in 1999. President Putin blamed the bombings on Chechen separatists, but no evidence was ever presented, and no Chechen ever claimed responsibility for the blasts, according to the report.
- The murder of at least 28 journalists in Russia since President Putin took office in 1999, at least $24 billion stolen from the Russian state by President Putin’s inner circle and the neutering of political opponents by the creation of “rubber-stamp opposition parties” and harassing legitimate opponents.
-  The targeting of former Soviet states, such as Georgia, Ukraine and Montenegro, who seek to join the European Union or NATO, with a range of tactics including propaganda, cyber-attacks, money laundering and corruption aimed at politicians and military invasion.
-  When the Kremlin’s attempted to politically influence Montenegro’s election in advance of its decision to join the EU, Russian intelligence agents allegedly tried to launch a coup.
-  In more established democracies in Western Europe, the Russian government has sought to undermine support for sanctions, interfere in elections through overt and covert support for sympathetic political parties and spread fake news stories and confusion to exacerbate existing political or social divisions. Its influence was felt last year in the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom to exit the EU, and in French and German elections, according to the report.
What is certain is that the confrontation between both Democratic and Republican parties with the Russian authorities and the Kremlin is undeniable, a matter that the two main US parties agree on.
© Mehr News Agency

Hanif Ghafari, an expert on international affairs, is the guest contributor to Mehr News Agenacy

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