The US believes Russian intelligence agencies have worked closely with the editorial staff of five Russian-language media outlets to boost public support for a renewed Russian invasion of UkraineUS officials familiar with the intelligence assessment told CNN in a media briefing.
Officers with Russia’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, the FSB and SVR, have covertly planted articles in publications that blame the West for tensions with Russia over Ukraine, question the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government and challenge the US commitment to its European allies, US officials alleged.
A pillar of the alleged propaganda scheme is the Strategic Culture Foundation, a Russian journal that the US Treasury Department sanctioned last April for spreading disinformation in the 2020 US election, officials said.
The US officials did not present the underlying intelligence the allegations were based on, and they declined to describe how the information was obtained. Some of the information is corroborated by open-source reporting.
The disclosure is part of a furious effort by the Biden administration to declassify intelligence in the hope of preempting Russian military action in Ukraine, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other US officials have said could happen at any time. Russia has massed an estimated 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, according to two sources familiar with recent assessments.
The disinformation campaign “is a primary vector for how the Russian government will bolster support domestically for an invasion into Ukraine, as well as spread any disinformation on a false flag operation,” a US official authorized to speak on background with the media told CNN.
Neither the Strategic Culture Foundation nor the Russian Embassy in Washington responded to a request for comment. Russia has previously denied US allegations that the Kremlin was spreading misinformation.
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