US SPIES CLAIM RUSSIA BEHIND COVID DISINFORMATION DRIVE
Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that merica is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, US officials told Eric Tucker of the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday (Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in Manila.)
Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort reaching American and Western audiences, they added. They spoke to the Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Officials described the Russian disinformation as part of an ongoing and persistent effort to advance false narratives and cause confusion. They did not say whether the effort behind these particular websites was directly related to the November election, though some of the coverage appeared to denigrate Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, and does call to mind Russian efforts from 2016 to exacerbate race relations in America and drive corruption allegations against US political figures.
The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence.
Between late May and early July, one of the officials said, the websites singled out Tuesday published about 150 articles about the pandemic response, including coverage aimed either at propping up Russia or denigrating the US. Among the headlines that caught the attention of U.S. officials “Russia’s Counter COVID-19 Aid to America Advances Case for Détente,” which suggested that Russia had given urgent and substantial aid to the US to fight the pandemic, and “Beijing Believes COVID-19 is a Biological Weapon,” which amplified statements by the Chinese.