Russia is using information operations to discredit democratic elections worldwide, according to a U.S. intelligence report sent to around 100 countries on Oct. 20, several media outlets reported.
While Moscow's past strategy focused on backing specific candidates, their new methods seek to sow distrust toward the electoral process, portraying elections as dysfunctional and their results illegitimate, the document said.
"Russia is pursuing operations to degrade public confidence in the integrity of elections themselves," the U.S. said in a cable sent to embassies of around 100 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and obtained by the Associated Press.
The Kremlin was reportedly encouraged by its past success in amplifying disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. 2020 presidential elections, where unsuccessful Republican candidate Donald Trump spread unfounded accusations of electoral fraud.
"Success breeds more, and we definitely see the U.S. elections as a catalyst," a senior State Department official told Reuters.
The U.S. intelligence analysis of Russian information operations between January 2020 and December 2022 reportedly discovered that Russia engaged "in the concentrated effort" to undermine confidence in at least 11 elections in nine democracies.
Less pronounced Russian activities were said to target another 17 democratic countries.
"This is a global phenomenon," said the assessment. "Our information indicates that senior Russian government officials, including the Kremlin, see value in this type of influence operation and perceive it to be effective."
Moscow's range of tools for such operations reportedly includes internet trolls, social media influences, proxy websites linked to Russian intelligence, and Russian state-run propaganda outlets like Russia Today or Sputnik, the Voice of America said.