A private U.S. research group-Russia waging covert economic and political warfare to manipulate central and eastern Europe

Source: Reuters

Russia has mounted a campaign of covert economic and political measures to manipulate five countries in central and eastern Europe, discredit the West’s liberal democratic model, and undermine trans-Atlantic ties, a report by a private U.S. research group said.

The report released on Thursday said Moscow had co-opted sympathetic politicians, strived to dominate energy markets and other economic sectors, and undermined anti-corruption measures in an attempt to gain sway over governments in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Serbia, and Slovakia.

“The Russians have been engaged in a sustained campaign to recapture what Putin considers their rightful buffer in Eastern Europe, and to undermine not just NATO and the EU, but the entire democratic foundation of both institutions,” said a U.S. official who has studied Russian behavior since before the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

Those activities, he said, include bribery, propaganda, disinformation, “the occasional” assassination of Kremlin critics at home or abroad, and now using the internet to undermine opponents and weaken Western institutions.

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