Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
Without a doubt, North Korea poses a legitimate threat to the entire world — just look at the latest reports of ballistic missile tests over Japan. That being said, there is a country some people would argue is an even greater threat to our nation and democracy in general.
We know Russia has carried out cyberattacks in the United States. But the real danger is bigger than that — especially when you consider what we know about Russia’s overall goal and, more importantly, that of Vladimir Putin.
The fact is Russia has a digital intelligence plan in place right now that outlines different ways to wreak havoc around the world.
By now everyone has heard about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the hacking of John Podesta’s email account. However, Russia’s playbook for creating instability around the world goes far beyond influencing political elections.
Russia’s Big Bag of Tricks
Before I share with you the many ways in which Russia plans to undermine world peace, it’s important to consider why they’re doing this.
First, Putin is dealing with a failing Russian economy that has not prospered since the fall of the Soviet Union. While the economy is more stable than in the 1990s, inflation is still a huge issue. Furthermore, Russia suffered a recession that began in 2014 and was only declared over earlier this year.
Second, Putin is a former KGB officer and many of his top leaders (who are also in their 60s or 70s) are products of the Cold War era. In other words, these are people who want to solidify Russia as a world power and see the United States as their greatest enemy.
Now, here are some of the top ways Russia plans to target the U.S. and its Western allies to undercut democracy:
Fake Political Information: Russia wants to influence politics around the world. In fact, there are reports that they have targeted Germany’s upcoming elections. They do this by using social media, newspapers and other media outlets to spread disinformation that sways voters and convinces citizens to doubt the legitimacy of their own government.
Cyberattacks: Obviously, we’ve all heard about the numerous cyberattacks Russia has executed, including the Yahoo hack earlier this year that affected over 1 billion accounts. The scary thing is Russia has been probing cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure such as electrical grids, which could shut down vital services.
Natural Resources: Roughly one-third of Europe’s oil comes from Russia. Not only that, but Russia has the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Unfortunately, many of the countries around Russia depend on them for natural gas. If Russia decides to reduce the amount of natural gas they sell to other countries, it would have a ripple effect across markets worldwide.
Cash: In 1968, the Soviet hierarchy told Anatoly Dobrynin, the ambassador to the United States, to offer money to Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey — who, of course, declined. And don’t think that was a one-time occurrence. I can assure you Russia continues to attempt bribery to this day. Whether it’s politics or business dealings, Russia is no stranger to using cash to influence other leaders.
Spying: It’s long been understood that Russia uses their U.N. Consulate in New York City as a cover for their intelligence officers. Suspected Russian spies from the embassy are constantly monitored by teams of FBI agents. In fact, government officials believe that Russian diplomats recently making trips to parts of Kansas were mapping out vital areas of critical U.S. infrastructure.
The reality is Russia has several options in their playbook to create chaos in the world and will continue to do so to distract from their own problems.
Unfortunately, with the turmoil resulting from our 2016 presidential election, Russia thinks they are winning the war against democracy and can’t be stopped. I hope we can prove them wrong.