6:41 PM 9/28/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters | Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
Our System Is Rigged – HuffPost
Wray installed as FBI director, replacing Comey – Fox News
Wray installed as FBI director; Trump absent at ceremony – San Francisco Chronicle
Christopher Wray installed as FBI director but Trump, Comey, Mueller nowhere to be found – USA TODAY
The Latest: Senate Dem Not Impressed With Twitter Briefing – U.S. News & World Report
28.09.2017 01:27
28.09.2017 16:00
28.09.2017 18:47
Paul Manafort just reached the end of his rope
Week In Review – The South Florida Times
Spies, lies and the oligarch: inside London’s booming secrets industry – Financial Times
Insider reveals the specific criminal charges Robert Mueller will bring against Donald Trump and his co-conspirators
Evidence mounts that Russia used Facebook to sow political chaos in the US – Business Insider
Fake NewsIncluding From Russian SourcesSaturated Swing States That Trump Barely Won – Mother Jones
Why Do Americans Distrust the Media? The Atlantic The World Web Times
distrust of mainstream media – Google Search
Rightwing populist AfD dominates German Twitter, new study shows
Congress is investigating how Twitter (TWTR) bots may have impacted the US election Quartz
Propaganda flowed heavily into battleground states around election, study says – The Washington Post
Russia Influence Diminished in Results of German Election

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters

mikenova shared this story from US elections and russia – Google News.

Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election
Reuters
WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Twitter officials on Thursday briefed U.S. congressional investigators probing howRussian-backed internet trolls, bots and targeted ads may have been used on the microblogging site to influence last year’selection.

Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal

mikenova shared this story from Comey – Google News.

Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey
Akron Beacon Journal
He replaces James Comey, who was fired in May by President Donald Trump after fewer than four years on the job. The ceremony at FBI headquarters on Thursday was notable because neither Comey nor Robert Mueller, who preceded him as FBI director, …

Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters

mikenova shared this story from US elections and russia – Google News.


RT
Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election
Reuters
N) officials on Thursday briefed U.S. congressional investigators probing how Russian-backed internet trolls, bots and targeted ads may have been used on the microblogging site to influence last year’s election. Colin Crowell, Twitter’s vice president 
Reddit may be probed over its role in alleged Russian meddling into 2016 US elections reportRT
Twitter: Russia spent $US274,100 on ads during 2016 US electionThe Sydney Morning Herald
Russian group spent $274000 on Twitter ads during US electionPhys.Org
CNNMoney –Business Insider –Firstpost –Washington Post
all 476 news articles »
Today’s Headlines and Commentary

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

The Trump administration temporarily waived the Jones Act, which had inhibited access to needed hurricane relief supplies, for Puerto Rico, according to the New York Times. The century-old law says only American-built, -owned and -operated vessels can ship goods transported within the United States. On Monday, eight members of Congress submitted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting the temporary waiver, asserting that temporarily lifting the act would facilitate the transportation of supplies to the devastated island.

On Thursday, Chung Eui-young, South Koreas national security adviser, stated that the country expects the United States could begin to more regularly send strategic military assets to the South by the end of the year, the Washington Post reports. The Pentagon has not yet confirmed the decision. While Chung did not specify what the strategic assets would be, the term likely refers to B-52 bombers, stealth warplanes, nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, as South Korean officials often suggest.

Yesterday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned of a response following the Trump administrations restriction of Russian military flights over U.S. territory, Reuters reports. Both the United States and Russia have questioned the others compliance with the Open Skies Treaty, an agreement allowing unarmed aerial observation flights over territories of the participating states. On Tuesday, the United States announced it was restricting Russian military flights over U.S. territory after Moscow prohibited U.S. observation flights over Kaliningrad.

President Vladimir Putin announced that he oversaw the destruction of Russias last chemical weapons yesterday, while also rebuking the United States for not acting similarly, according to the Times. The event was broadcast on state television and presented an opportunity for Putin to assert the United States was not fulfilling its deadline to destroy its chemical weapons pursuant to the Chemical Weapons Convention. A State Department official retorted Putins claim, saying the United States fully complies with the treaty and remains committed to completely destroying its chemical weapons by 2023. The treaty, signed in 1993, had an initial deadline of 2007 before it was extended to 2012.

Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will resign on October 1, the Post reports. Rosenberg reportedly declined Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenteins suggestion that he serve as the presidentially appointed head of the DEA or in another Justice Department position. In July, Rosenberg notably criticized Trumps comments concerning treatment of criminal suspects in an email to DEA employees. He has also been at odds with Justice Department officials over DEA requests to grow marijuana for research in an administration which supports stricter marijuana enforcement. Rosenbergs replacement will likely address similar issues over marijuana enforcement and research, in addition to handling the opioid crisis.

On Thursday, Twitter participated in a closed-door hearing with House and Senate intelligence committee staff concerning Russias used of the social media platform and the 2016 election, CNN reports. Facebook participated in a similar hearing this month that revealed the tech giant sold more than 3,000 election ads to a Russian agency. Yesterday, the House committee stated they plan on holding an open hearing with the tech companies in the next month. In a related event, Mark Zuckerberg released a statement last night dismissing Trumps accusation that Facebook was biased against the president, instead arguing the social media platform will continue to work to build a community for all people.

Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified material, admitted she smuggled a classified report in her pantyhose, according to Politico. A transcript of Winners interrogation, which federal prosecutors filed on Wednesday, revealed the admission and other details related to the case. The 25-year-old linguist sent the report, which concerned Russian spearfishing attacks against U.S. voter registration databases, to The Intercept. Winners trial is currently set for March 1. If convicted, prosecutors say Winner would face at least nine years in prison under sentencing guidelines.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bob Bauer argued that the presidents untruthful claims about the Russian investigation could have legal consequences.

Robert Chesney unveiled a joint blog post series surrounding the Fifth Annual Transatlantic Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict.

Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted the latest National Security Law Podcast.

Nora Ellingsen provided a roundup of this months international terrorism prosecutions.

Our System Is Rigged – HuffPost

mikenova shared this story from trump electorate – Google News.


Baltimore Sun
Our System Is Rigged
HuffPost
For the first few months of his presidency, Donald Trump delighted in showing guests an electoral map of the country in which huge splotches from the South through the Midwest and into the far West were red, indicating Trump’s support. He was right, of …
Does Trump have a chance to be a two-term president? Bigly.Baltimore Sun
Trump’s re-election effort will be the most vicious campaign you’ve ever seenThe Week Magazine
Alabama tide portends another angry voter waveWashington Examiner

all 337 news articles »

Wray installed as FBI director, replacing Comey – Fox News

mikenova shared this story from Comey – Google News.


Fox News
Wray installed as FBI director, replacing Comey
Fox News
Trump fired Comey in May, and Mueller was appointed as special counsel the following week to oversee an FBI investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Comey, Mueller skip ceremony for Wray’s installation as FBI directorPolitico
Chris Wray formally installed as FBI director, replaces fired ComeyCBS News

all 72 news articles »

Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives – Chicago Tribune

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services – Google News.


Chicago Tribune
Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives
Chicago Tribune
“There’s plenty of evidence that Russian intelligence services have been on Twitter for years and have used Twitter to amplify messages and inserted lines of attack in ways that got amplified by mainstream and partisan media,” said Alex Howard, deputy …
Are Russia’s ‘Friends’ Hiding in Your Facebook Feed?The Nation.
Twitter just told Congress it found about 200 accounts linked to the same Russian agents found on FacebookRecode
Senator Berates Twitter Over ‘Inadequate’ Inquiry Into Russian MeddlingNew York Times
CNET –The Guardian –Washington Post –Twitter Blog
all 509 news articles »
Wray installed as FBI director; Trump absent at ceremony – San Francisco Chronicle

mikenova shared this story from trump investigated by the fbi – Google News.


San Francisco Chronicle
Wray installed as FBI director; Trump absent at ceremony
San Francisco Chronicle
Trump fired Comey in May, and Mueller was appointed as special counsel the following week to oversee an FBI investigationinto potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Grassley threatens to subpoena FBI officials for answers on Comey, Clinton, RussiaFox News
Senate Investigators Will Interview FBI Officials About Trump’s Firing of ComeyNewsweek
Christopher Wray installed as FBI director but Trump, Comey, Mueller nowhere to be foundUSA TODAY
Politico
all 16 news articles »
Christopher Wray installed as FBI director but Trump, Comey, Mueller nowhere to be found – USA TODAY

mikenova shared this story from trump under federal investigation – Google News.

Christopher Wray installed as FBI director but Trump, Comey, Mueller nowhere to be found
USA TODAY
Nominee Chris Wray under the spotlight … Wray, who graduated from Yale Law School in 1992, left the Justice Department in 2005 to join the law firm of King & Spalding, where he represented major corporations in state and federal investigations. He

and more »

The Latest: Senate Dem Not Impressed With Twitter Briefing – U.S. News & World Report

mikenova shared this story from Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News.


Inc.com
The Latest: Senate Dem Not Impressed With Twitter Briefing
U.S. News & World Report
Twitter shared those findings with the House and Senate intelligence committees Thursday. The committees have beeninvestigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and how Twitter and Facebook were used to spread of misinformation …
Twitter, With Accounts Linked to Russia, to Face Congress Over Role in ElectionNew York Times
Twitter just told Congress it found about 200 accounts linked to the same Russian agents found on FacebookRecode
Twitter Faces Questions About Russia’s Interference in 2016 ElectionInc.com
Fortune –CBS News –Washington Post –Twitter Blog
all 498 news articles »
28.09.2017 01:27

mikenova shared this story from Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com.

28.09.2017 16:00

mikenova shared this story from Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com.

28.09.2017 18:47

mikenova shared this story from Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com.

Paul Manafort just reached the end of his rope

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller raided Paul Manafort’s house in July, a sign that he was willing to take any aggressive measures necessary to convince Manafort to flip on Donald Trump in exchange for leniency. Mueller further warned Manafort that he was going to be indicted if he didn’t cooperate yet that still hasn’t happened. Mueller’s only reason for waiting is a strategic one, giving Manafort additional rope. Now he’s run out of that rope.

After Manafort learned that he was going to be indicted if he failed to cooperate, he responded by taking a paying gig with yet another foreign government. The whole thing came off as one last attempted cash grab by Manafort before the gig was up; perhaps he was hoping to keep the money as part of his deal with the Feds, or perhaps he just couldn’t help himself. Whatever the reason, Mueller decided to sit back and let it play out, even while letting word slip out that Manafort had been wiretapped before and during the campaign just to make sure he knew he was going down in the end.

Manafort took a gig working for the Kurdistan independence movement, which is more than a bit sketchy, both because the United States has taken a position against the movement, and because those are the kinds of gigs that got him into such legal trouble to begin with. The vote on the independence referendum took place on Monday. No one among the media or the public seems to know whether Manafort ended up traveling to Kurdistan for the vote, as he had reportedly been contemplating. But it’s a given that Mueller wouldn’t have let Manafort leave the country if he didn’t want it to happen.

We still don’t know why Robert Mueller strategically decided to wait until Paul Manafort’s Kurdistan gig was over before making a move on him. But we’ve periodically been reminded that Mueller is quietly three steps ahead of all of us. Now that the gig is over, the jig is up and we’ll soon see Mueller’s next move against Manafort play out.

The post Paul Manafort just reached the end of his rope appeared first on Palmer Report.

Week In Review – The South Florida Times

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence, organized crime and war on police – Google News.


The South Florida Times
Week In Review
The South Florida Times
Michael Cohen was appearing privately before the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of multiple congressional panels investigating Russian interference in the presidential race and potential ties to the Trump campaign. Special counsel … In a prepared 

Spies, lies and the oligarch: inside London’s booming secrets industry – Financial Times

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services and international organized crime – Google News.


Financial Times
Spies, lies and the oligarch: inside London’s booming secrets industry
Financial Times
In 2009, a fugitive Kazakh oligarch arranged a meeting in London with the head of an international private intelligence agency. Mukhtar Ablyazov, a slim man in his …. Born in 1963 to a family of modest means in a Kazakh village near theRussian 

Insider reveals the specific criminal charges Robert Mueller will bring against Donald Trump and his co-conspirators

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still quietly working his way through the various aspects of the most complex criminal investigation in United States history. His actions, such as subpoenas and FBI raids and specific hires and impending indictments, have tipped off bits and pieces of where he’s headed. But now a Department of Justice insider has revealed the specific criminal charges that Mueller can be expected to bring against Donald Trump and his co-conspirators.

Jimmy Gurulé was an Assistant Attorney General in the George W. Bush administration, giving him specific expertise when it comes to putting together the pieces and figuring out specifically what a prosecutor like Mueller is aiming toward. Gurulé appeared on the Brian Williams show on MSNBC on Wednesday night, and he laid out the various criminal charges that he expects Mueller to bring in the Trump-Russia probe.

According to Gurulé the list includes obstruction of justice, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (a law which centers around campaign fundraising), violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, IRS tax laws, and possibly money laundering. He didn’t spell out which charges will be brought against which individuals, but based on prior reporting, some of it can be put together rather easily.

For instance, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn are accused of being in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, while the inclusion of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act suggests that someone on Trump’s team may have committed criminal hacking, or conspired with the Russians to commit criminal hacking. The larger question, of course, is which of these charges apply to Donald Trump himself.

Robert Mueller cannot put Donald Trump on trial; only Congress can try the President for alleged crimes. But Mueller can ask a grand jury to name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator, as was the case during Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. There are legal scholars such as Professor Laurence Tribe who believe Mueller can indict Trump for crimes, even if he can’t try him for those crimes. The point of that would be to demonstrate such obvious guilt that Congress would have no choice but to finish Trump off. Once Trump is ousted from office, he can then be prosecuted in a regular court of law.

The post Insider reveals the specific criminal charges Robert Mueller will bring against Donald Trump and his co-conspirators appeared first on Palmer Report.

Evidence mounts that Russia used Facebook to sow political chaos in the US – Business Insider

mikenova shared this story from trump russian candidate – Google News.


Business Insider
Evidence mounts that Russia used Facebook to sow political chaos in the US
Business Insider
Indeed, though Russia backed Trump’s candidacy during the election, the report noted that the fake Facebook group’s biggest swell in activity came after the president ordered a missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat airfield in April. Trump made the 

Fake NewsIncluding From Russian SourcesSaturated Swing States That Trump Barely Won – Mother Jones

mikenova shared this story from donald trump russia – Google News.


Mother Jones
Fake NewsIncluding From Russian SourcesSaturated Swing States That Trump Barely Won
Mother Jones
Millions of tweets were flying furiously in the final days leading up to the 2016 US presidential election. And in closely fought battleground states that would prove key to Donald Trump’s victory, they were more likely than elsewhere in America to be 

and more »

Why Do Americans Distrust the Media? The Atlantic The World Web Times

mikenova shared this story from The World Web Times.

Source: Why Do Americans Distrust the Media? – The Atlantic

distrust of mainstream media – Google Search

mikenova shared this story from distrust of mainstream media – Google News.

The media’s credibility crisis

Duke ChronicleSep 26, 2017
While distrust of the mainstream media often emerges from the right, the survey’s results suggest it would be inaccurate to define this skepticism …

Media unrelenting vs. Trump

The Tand <a href=”http://D.com” rel=”nofollow”>D.com</a>Sep 25, 2017
From Charlottesville to Hurricane Irma, the liberal media are … Is it any wonder Americans have record-high distrust for the mainstream media?
Story image for distrust of mainstream media from Orlando Sentinel

Liberal media unrelenting in their bias against President Trump

Orlando SentinelSep 26, 2017
Liberal media unrelenting in their bias against President Trump … any wonder Americans have record-high distrust for the mainstream media?
Rightwing populist AfD dominates German Twitter, new study shows

mikenova shared this story .

Listen to this article

00:00

00:00

Research published today by a group at Oxford university shows that the rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) drives more Twitter traffic than any major German party, and more even than non-partisan discussion of the upcoming general election itself.

The study by the Oxford Computational Propaganda project found that, of almost 1m tweets collected between September 1 and 10, hashtags associated specifically with the AfD appeared in more than 30 per cent.

The AfD, which hopes to win its first seats in the German parliament on Sunday, is “highly salient in the German Twitter sphere”, the study concludes. Lead researcher Lisa-Maria Neudert told the FT that the AfD “absolutely dominates” German political Twitter traffic.

Ms Neudert said: “AfD is very vocal on social media. They have a big following and a good communications strategy, a social media-first strategy.” The study does not distinguish between Twitter traffic supporting the AfD and that opposing it.

The study also found that the overall proportion of traffic generated by highly automated accounts, known as bots, was “not substantial”, although the level of automation was highest for traffic using AfD-related hashtags.

The AfD is the most successful rightwing populist party in Germany since the second world war. Its stated aim is “the self-preservation not the self-destruction of our state and our people” and its policies include the “closure of all German borders”. The party is expected to win 50 or more seats in Sunday’s election.

The study’s publication comes after a week in which dominant social media companies faced renewed scrutiny over their — largely opaque — role in shaping political discourse. Facebook handed over information to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election after revealing that Russian-linked users had purchased at least $100,000 worth of advertising on the site.

Original FT analyses of Twitter and Facebook data show how the AfD’s social media position has the potential to provide the fulcrum for a shift in German political discourse towards the far right, and that such a shift may already be in progress.

Mapping the Twitter relationships between more than 700 Bundestag candidates identified as users of the social media platform by transparency campaign group Abgeordnetenwatch.de shows the extent to which the AfD is distinct from the political mainstream. Candidates for the major parties are more likely to follow each other, whereas few AfD candidates follow those of other parties and vice versa.

Ms Neudert, the Oxford researcher, put the number of Twitter users in Germany at 1m — a fraction of the more than 30m German Facebook users. However, she noted, Twitter is considered important by “opinion leaders and influencers” and serves as a channel for open communication between politicians and journalists.

With over 350,000 likes — more than two of the largest parties, CDU and SPD, put together — the AfD has a similarly formidable Facebook presence. While user engagement with the party on Facebook grew steadily throughout the refugee crisis of summer 2015, its biggest ever boost came after an outcry over a spate of sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve 2015, when the number of reactions to AfD posts tripled to more than 380,000 within a month. Many of the perpetrators of the assaults were asylum seekers or illegal immigrants, and the episode helped to push the AfD’s level of Facebook engagement to new heights.

It was not only the level of engagement with the party that rose following the New Year’s Eve attacks. The tone of the AfD Facebook page changed: words and phrases which, in Germany, are most closely associated with the Nazi era began to appear more frequently in the comments users were posting on the page.

Based on academic research and interviews with two leading German political language researchers, the FT compiled a list of 25 terms associated with the Nazi era and/or other German nationalistic ideologies. We then used original software to determine how often these terms appear in user comments on the AfD Facebook page.

In May 2015, an average of 2.6 of the terms were used across all comments per AfD post. A year later, this figure had risen to 29.6 — an increase of 1,100 per cent. Among the most frequently used terms were “Volksverräter” (traitor to the people) and “Altparteien” (establishment parties), both of which have strong Nazi connotations.

Terms such as “national” and “patriot” have also seen rises in frequency. While ostensibly uncontroversial, these are among the terms with a more problematic history in Germany.

The number of distinct Facebook users to use such terms in comments also increased, and though the use of this language has fallen since its peak in early 2016, it remains significantly higher than for much of the page’s existence.

Congress is investigating how Twitter (TWTR) bots may have impacted the US election Quartz

mikenova shared this story .

Twitter executives will be grilled tomorrow morning (Sept. 28) on Capitol Hill by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is probing Russia’s meddling in the US presidential election.

The main focus of the questioning will be automated Twitter accounts, a.k.a. bots, and whether Twitter is doing enough to curb the ones that are spreading propaganda and misinformation, one person briefed on the committee’s preparations told Quartz.

Twitter’s bot army is so widespread that as many as 15% of its monthly active users—49 million, based on Twitter’s latest figure for its total user base—may be bots, estimated a study (pdf, p. 9) of English-speaking accounts earlier this year. Groups like Securing Democracy are attempting to track Russian propaganda on the network, by tracking “hashtags, topics and URLs promoted by Russia-linked influence networks” there.

“We’ve heard they [Twitter] don’t do a good job of removing ‘sock puppet IDs’ [Twitter users pretending to be someone else] or Russian bots,” the person briefed said. Senators are worried that bots spewing political spam or hijacking conversations result in real information getting buried, this person said. They’re also interested in what effect bots retweeting articles and information may have on Google search results. Facebook may be doing a better job of monitoring its users and customers, and removing harmful fake ones, the committee believes.

“There a universal appreciation that bots are becoming problematic on Twitter,” Robert Gorwa, a researcher with the Project on Computational Propaganda at the Oxford Internet Institute, told Quartz. “What isn’t appreciated is how much Twitter has enabled this by encouraging automation.” Twitter’s developer policies tell users how to use automation and the company provide guides on how to use bots to spread messages, he noted.

In the early days of Twitter, bots were easy to spot by their “egg” avatars, unusual ratios of following to followers, or obviously machine-written tweets. Now, as many have fleshed-out Twitter profiles or even entire online personalities (pdf, p. 16) and technology has improved, “they’ve gotten so sophisticated, we can’t recognize them,” Gorwa said.

A Twitter spokesman told Quartz the company was cooperating with the committee and confirmed it would brief it this week. “Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, a cornerstone of all democracies, and will continue to strengthen our platform against bots and other forms of manipulation that violate our terms of service,” the spokesman said.

Propaganda flowed heavily into battleground states around election, study says – The Washington Post

mikenova shared this story .

Russia Influence Diminished in Results of German Election

mikenova shared this story from Observer.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia President Vladimir Putin. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

After massive Kremlin-led disinformation campaigns against German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the height of the 2015-2016 migration wave, many expected such tactics to be a major element of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to influence the German parliamentary elections. While disinformation remains one of Russia’s primary tools to subvert the West, the Kremlin has a larger strategy.

There are two games Russia plays.

First, Russia has a long-term strategy to disrupt Western democracies by exploiting their internal problems and supporting local extremists and pro-Kremlin forces. A principled response to Putin’s occupation of Ukraine, Georgia or Moldova—such as Merkel’s— is harder to pull through. As Russia sees it, if you cannot defeat the other team, tear down the playing field.

Secondly, Moscow employs short-term campaigns on a tactical level. This includes supporting Kremlin-preferred politicians and policies and attacking their opponents with hostile means. Such support was awarded to Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, the “leave” vote in the Brexit referendum, and the “no” vote in the Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. If such tactics are successful, Putin celebrates because he perceives the opponent as more dangerous.

The Russian authorities and their proxies use a wide variety of tools to achieve soft regime change, meaning getting Putin-friendly politicians into office. With politicians who are soft on Russia, Putin gets effective allies who are less willing to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity or stand up to Russia’s subversive efforts in the West.

Knowing this, Moscow’s view of German politics becomes more clear.

Due to Merkel’s principled position, Germany is the key architect of Europe’s sanctions against Russia. That’s why she is the prime target of Putin’s hostile actions and is demonized by Russian puppet media.

Outside of the Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), every major party wants to soften Germany’s position on Russia. Conservative CSU, Merkel’s close partner, focuses its rhetoric on a “business-first” approach, no matter Russia’s violations of international law. The leader of center-right liberal FDPA, a probable coalition member, has publicly flirted with removing Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Germany’s foreign policy focus. The Greens, another probable coalition partner, have strong anti-Putin messaging, but its rhetoric verges on anti-American as well, helping Moscow massively.

On the far left is Moscow’s reliable ally Die Linke. Their agenda is clear: Bash the West and the U.S. for everything and always relativize Russia’s atrocities. On the far right, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose funding remains unclear, openly advocates for Russia; one of its foreign policy priorities is appeasement. It’s no wonder these two parties are called the Kremlin’s Trojan Horses. Both vocalize Russia’s foreign policy objectives and have real political presence, though they have limited influence on German and EU policy as a whole. They drive conversation about policies the Kremlin cares about, but they cannot directly influence their implementation.

Putin’s goals in Germany are obvious: Break Berlin’s policy on sanctions and support for Ukraine, put Germany at odds with Washington, and push through Nord Stream 2 to side line Germany’s allies in Eastern Europe and increase Berlin’s dependency on Russian energy supply.

Who in the German political establishment shares these goals? The Social Democrats (SPD). There are various possible roots for the SPD’s submissive policy towards Putin. It might be the phantom pain of Ostpolitik, a feeling that SPD has nothing to contribute on foreign policy other than differing with CDU on Russia. It might be the schroederization effect, where some leaders see the former chancellor’s lucrative Russian business deals as a potential path for themselves. It’s astounding that Schröder’s work for Putin doesn’t matter to SPD—he even got a hero’s welcome at its last party convention. It took Putin’s self-proclaimed friend accepting another position within Russia’s state-linked companies for German press to begin criticizing him. Schröder isn’t the only Putin-friendly former SPD boss. Matthias Platzeck also serves in the broader Kremlin-linked network, presiding over Deutsch-Russisches-Forum,” frequently talking to Russian propaganda mouthpiece Sputnik, and befriendingformer KGB officer and Putin inner circle oligarch Vladimir Jakunin, who now runs his pro-Putin influence network directly from Berlin.

It’s not only former leaders; current leaders are adopting similar policies. SPD senior figures are the established advocates for Nord Stream 2—basically teaming up with Putin against Germany’s allies in Eastern Europe. SPD leadership has called for the U.S. nuclear umbrella to be withdrawn from Germany, advocated for “phasing-out” sanctions against Russia (which CSU does all the time), opposes any additional sanctions on Russia, and called NATO reassurance exercises in Poland “warmongering.”

The ultimate reason that the Social Democrats support Putin’s foreign policy objectives may never be known, but the party is Putin’s most important advocate in the German political establishment. In contrast with Die Linke or AfD, SPD can shape policies.

Best-case scenario for Moscow is a CDU/CSU-SPD coalition, which would force Angela Merkel to be softer on Russia. Under this coalition, countries concerned with Russian aggression would have a principled backer in her, but Berlin wouldn’t be the leading force pushing back against Russia’s subversion of European democracies. Moreover, the Kremlin’s short-term project in Germany is Nord Stream 2, of which SPD is a key proponent. Because SPD has invested enormous political capital in it, Merkel wouldn’t block it—to do so would be too politically expensive. With this option off the table, Moscow will have its friends run the German opposition.

With SPD likely being out of the next coalition, Moscow lost big-time.

Jakub Janda is the head of the Kremlin Watch Program at the Prague-based European Values Think-Tank. He consults for governments on how to counter hostile foreign influence operations.

The Real Loser of Germanys Election: Vladimir Putin

Share this article

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •