UNITED STATES SENATE, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, Washington, DC, January 10, 2018
DEAR COLLEAGUES: For years, Vladimir Putin’s government has
engaged in a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the
rule of law in Europe and the United States. Mr. Putin’s Kremlin
employs an asymmetric arsenal that includes military invasions,
cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups,
and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime, and
corruption. The Kremlin has refined the use of these tools over
time and these attacks have intensified in scale and complexity
across Europe. If the United States fails to work with urgency to
address this complex and growing threat, the regime in Moscow
will become further emboldened. It will continue to develop and refine
its arsenal to use on democracies around the world, including
against U.S. elections in 2018 and 2020.
Following attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, U.S. presidents
have rallied the country and the world to address the challenges
facing the nation. Yet the current President of the United States
has barely acknowledged the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s repeated
attacks on democratic governments and institutions, let alone exercised
the kind of leadership history has shown is necessary to effectively
counter this kind of aggression. Never before in American
history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored
by a U.S. president.
The threat posed by Mr. Putin’s meddling existed before the current
U.S. Administration, and may well extend beyond it. Yet, as
this report will demonstrate, the Russian government’s malign influence
operations can be deterred. Several countries in Europe
took notice of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S.
election and realized the danger posed to their democracies. They
have taken steps to build resilience against Mr. Putin’s aggression
and interference, and the range of effective measures implemented
by European countries provide valuable lessons for the United
To that end, this report recommends a series of actions that the
United States should take across government, civil society, and the
private sector—and in cooperation with our allies—to push back
against the Kremlin’s aggression and establish a set of long-term
norms that can neutralize such efforts to undermine democracy.
Yet it must be noted that without leadership from the President,
any attempt to marshal such a response will be inherently weakened
at the outset.
VerDate Mar 15 2010 04:06 Jan 09, 2018 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 6602 Sfmt 6602 S:\FULL COMMITTEE\HEARING FILES\COMMITTEE PRINT 2018\HENRY\JAN. 9 REPORT
FOREI-42327 with DISTILLER
In addition, it is important to draw a distinction between Mr.
Putin’s corrupt regime and the people of Russia. Many Russian citizens
strive for a transparent, accountable government that operates
under the democratic rule of law, and we hold hope for better
relations in the future with a Russian government that reflects
these demands. In the meantime, the United States must work
with our allies to build defenses against Mr. Putin’s asymmetric arsenal,
and strengthen international norms and values to deter such
behavior by Russia or any other country.
The events discussed in this report are illustrative, not exhaustive,
and cover a period ending on December 31, 2017. There are
several important geographic areas that remain beyond the scope
of this report, including the Russian government’s role in the Syria
conflict, its complicated relationship with Turkey, or its involvement
in places like Central Asia and Latin America. The Russian
government’s use of corruption and money laundering also merit
additional examination by relevant committees in Congress, as well
as the Executive Branch. Given the ongoing investigations by the
Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, this report does not
delve into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Furthermore,
U.S. election infrastructure, electrical grids, and information
systems are outside the jurisdiction of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee and therefore beyond the scope of the recommendations
in this report, but certainly warrant further study.
Finally, there must be a bipartisan sense of urgency so the
United States immediately begins taking the steps necessary to fortify
and protect our democracy from Mr. Putin’s malicious meddling.
There is a long bipartisan tradition in Congress in support
of firm policies to counter Russian government aggression and
abuse against its own citizens, our allies, and universal values.
This report seeks to continue that tradition.
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Ranking Member.
Originally posted at otkaznik1.dreamwidth.org