A little-noticed paragraph in the recent U.S. intelligence community report about Russia’s hacking of the U.S. elections makes me wonder whether Moscow’s next step will be to conduct cyber-espionage campaigns to help elect authoritarian populist leaders in Germany and France’s elections this year, and in Mexico’s 2018 elections.
It sounds like the plot of a political thriller. But the Jan. 6 joint statement of the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency says Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered cyberattacks to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election, and Russia will continue “future (voting) influence efforts worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes.”
The statement did not elaborate but states Russia has a “long-standing desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.”
To do that, Putin has stepped up his cyber-espionage activities, hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer networks and handing over thousands of its emails to WikiLeaks, including many pertaining to former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In addition, Russia planted fake news in U.S. social media to hurt the Clinton campaign, it said.
After reading the U.S. intelligence community’s statement, I called Garry Kasparov, the well-known Russian dissident, head of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and former world chess champion, to ask him why Putin might have wanted to influence the U.S. elections in Trump’s favor. He cited several possible motives.