According to U.S. intelligence, Vladimir Putin has allocated a minimum of $300 million for operations aimed at blowing up the West from within. The U.S. is mobilizing its allies to fight this practice. It is not just Russia that has been targeted.
Since 2014, Russia has secretly transferred more than $300 million to foreign parties and politicians, the State Department wrote in an internal statement addressed to U.S. diplomatic missions. The White House also quietly informed the governments that had fallen victim to Russian operations about the details.
Russia Pays and Increases Its Influence
The information leaked to the media is vague because U.S. intelligence did not decide to declassify it. It is known that the most blatant dealings took place in an unnamed Asian country — the Russian ambassador donated millions of dollars to a presidential candidate. The document does not indicate specific names, but there are more than two dozen of them. It has already been confirmed that Russia interfered with elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany.
A source in the U.S. administration revealed that Moscow also spent around $500 million on the center-right Democratic Party of Albania in 2017, funding parties and candidates in Bosnia, Montenegro and Madagascar. The Moscow Times, citing an informed person in Washington, reported in turn that Brussels was used as a hub for operations supporting far-right European politicians. In contrast, the Russian embassy in Ecuador transferred “large amounts” of cash from 2014 to 2017, apparently acting on a mission to disrupt the country’s elections.
This is the tip of the iceberg and the Americans have no doubt about it. There are intelligence claims that the Kremlin is again planning to transfer millions to launch its assets in the West and influence, among other things, the results of the upcoming midterm elections in the U.S. The goal has been the same since 2016 — to destroy the Democrats. Back then, the Russians used cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns to harm Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party candidate and secretary of state in the Barack Obama administration. The Kremlin had additionally accused her of “initiating protests in Bolotnaya Square” after the rigged elections for the State Duma in 2011.
The Kremlin did everything to make her lose to Donald Trump, and also supported him in the presidential election in 2020, this time in the fight against Joe Biden. In every way, Trump was a welcome candidate for Moscow, an authoritarian businessman and politician. There was also clear chemistry between him and dictators such as Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Most importantly, he had a transactional approach to things.
‘Kremlin Cook’ and Poor Deputy
The leaked information also tells us who was behind these operations: the Americans name two of Putin’s key associates. First, Yevgeny Prigozhin, better known as the “Kremlin cook” and official owner of the Wagner Group, private mercenaries. Second, Alexander Babakov, deputy of A Just Russia. In April, the Department of Justice accused Babakov of plotting to breach U.S. sanctions. His name surfaced in 2016 on the occasion of the Panama Papers, which leaked 11.5 million documents of customers using tax havens. It was an election year in the U.S.
Babakov, as a deputy, had the right to hold shares in foreign companies, but he was also obligated to report that. Shortly before the deadline for submitting the pre-election declaration in October 2011, however, he transferred the ownership of the company to his 23-year-old daughter, who then lived in the elegant London borough of Knightsbridge, next to Hyde Park.
That is why he was one of the poorest deputies: He did not have an apartment or cars, and even his wife allegedly led a very modest life. Meanwhile, documents disclosed in 2016 showed that Babakov had set up a company abroad and was not so poor at all. He had luxury real estate in France, near Versailles, the former residence of kings, and an apartment in Paris next to the Eiffel Tower (this property was tracked down in 2013 by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation workers).
Blow Up the West from Within
U.S. intelligence confirms that Putin has earmarked more than $300 million for operations aimed at blowing up the West from within. In its opinion, the real amount is much greater. Not everything is easy to prove, as Russians pay in cash, cryptocurrencies and gifts that are difficult to track. They scatter the stream of money into numerous, very diverse institutions. Funds are transferred by foundations, think tanks, organized crime groups, intelligence officers, consulting and shell companies and sometimes official Russian diplomatic missions and state-owned corporations.
The modus operandi are always adapted to the specificity of the region. The Middle East, where gifts and baksheesh are part of the political culture, does not require any special effort. There, the Russians’ generosity does not offend. On the other hand, in Europe and the West in general, the Kremlin must try to mask its activities. For this purpose, it most often uses foundations and think tanks. It is their “experts” who are supposed to argue today that “if the sanctions do not work, they do not make sense, they must be withdrawn,” or “This is not our war, we should not get involved in it.” Or “Ukraine is to blame, Russia was provoked by the Anglo-Saxons.”
Useful idiots and open-minded sympathizers of the Kremlin, not concealing their anti-Western phobias, have become a vital problem. Therefore, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing Tuesday that the White House views the Kremlin’s involvement in the elections as an “assault on sovereignty” similar to aggression against Ukraine.
“To fight it, we need to illuminate it,*” Price said. Hence the mobilization of specific measures and allies to fight Russian “electoral aggression.” Details will most likely be the subject of the next Summit for Democracy in December. At stake — as we already know — are new economic sanctions and a ban on entry to certain territories for various “agents of influence.” The White House has also announced that it will coordinate the work of intelligence services, encouraging information exchange, strengthening control of foreign investments and deepening investigations into financing political parties. As we read in the document, the Americans, apart from Russia, targeted China and other countries operating in a similar way. Which ones? Who should start to worry?
Editor’s Note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be independently verified.