Putin’s next target: U.S. support for Ukraine, officials say

Putin’s next target: U.S. support for Ukraine, officials say

The New York Times reports:

Russia’s strategy to win the war in Ukraine is to outlast the West.

But how does Vladimir Putin plan to do that?

American officials said they are convinced that Mr. Putin intends to try to end U.S. and European support for Ukraine by using his spy agencies to push propaganda supporting pro-Russian political parties and by stoking conspiracy theories with new technologies.

The Russia disinformation aims to increase support for candidates opposing Ukraine aid with the ultimate goal of stopping international military assistance to Kyiv.

Russia has been frustrated that the United States and Europe have largely remained united on continued military and economic support for Ukraine, American officials said.

That military aid has kept Ukraine in the fight, put Russia’s original goals of taking Kyiv and Odesa out of reach and even halted its more modest objective to control all of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

But Mr. Putin believes he can influence American politics to weaken support for Ukraine and potentially restore his battlefield advantage, U.S. officials said.

Mr. Putin, the officials said, appears to be closely watching U.S. political debates over Ukraine assistance. Republican opposition to sending more money to Kyiv forced congressional leaders to pass a stopgap spending bill on Saturday that did not include additional aid for the country.

Moscow is also likely to try to boost pro-Russian candidates in Europe, seeing potential fertile ground with recent results. A pro-Russian candidate won Slovakia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday. In addition to national elections, Russia could seek to influence the European parliamentary vote next year, officials said.

Russia has long used its intelligence services to influence democratic politics around the world. [Continue reading…]

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