US officials report that the Russian government is publishing misleading articles, which may affect the upcoming presidential election.
US officials reported that the Russian government is publishing misleading articles in English about the COVID-19 pandemic and aiming them at Americans.
The officials told the Associated Press that two officials from the secretive GRU military intelligence unit have published 150 articles about the pandemic from the three websites they are running. The websites are InfoRos.ru, Infobrics.org, and OneWorld.press.
In addition to criticizing the way the US responded to the outbreak, many of the articles targeted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and accused him of corruption.
A number of the articles, discussing the origins of COVID-19 and ongoing protests, aimed to create agitation within Americans over the Black Lives Matter movement.
The US officials deemed the following headlines suspicious:
"Russia's Counter COVID-19 Aid to America Advances Case for Détente"
"Ukrainian Trap for Biden"
"Beijing Believes COVID-19 is a Biological Weapon"
"Chaos in the Blue Cities"
In 2016, a Russian government disinformation project used social media bots, fake articles, and Facebook ads against Hillary Clinton before the last presidential election. Russian assets also hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign websites in the attempt to set up meetings with the Trump campaign and discuss secret information that would harm Clinton’s chances.
On February 13, US intelligence officials told Congress that Russia was once again using disinformation to influence US politics. According to CNN and The New York Times, Russia has been interfering with the 2020 campaign by trying to gather support for Trump.
"Using a range of efforts, including internet trolls and other proxies, [Russia] continues to spread disinformation in the US that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process," William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center said last Friday.
According to the Associated Press, US officials said it wasn't clear if the websites were specifically trying to influence the November election, however with 97 days and counting until the day, it is certainly noteworthy.