Threat Management, Threat Management, Threat Intelligence

McFaul says Putin invested billions in trolls and bots to propagate chaos

Fueled in part by resentment over liberal Western foreign policy, Russian President Vladmir Putin's interference in democracies around the world, most notably during the U.S. presidential election cycle, is meant to spark chaos abroad even as he seeks stability at home, according to a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under the Obama administration.

Putin “has invested billions of dollars to propagate” his ideology, Michael McFaul, author of the book “From Cold War to Hot Peace,” said during a lecture at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He has invested in bots and trolls,” to create “an idealistic alliance around the world.

McFaul called the “sophisticated strategy of pushing these ideas” one that had seen successes even in the U.S.

The former ambassador said he's known Putin since the early 1990s, joking that they were not Facebook friends, though he admitted he's not sure of that. “What's happened on FB these days, you don't know who your friends are,” he said.

When asked why Putin with “a pair of threes in his poker hand” is winning against a “country with three kings,” McFaul said the Russian president is less risk averse with his hand. “He wouldn't have done what he did in the 2016 election in 2000,” he said.

And while the case for collusion between the Trump administration and Russian operatives has not yet been made, McFaul said Putin's intentions during the presidential election were clear. “Was there intent to help [Donald Trump]? Clearly, yes. Wikileaks, the stuff they stole, Sputnik tweeting #CrookedHillary. Did [Russia] offer information to the Trump campaign to help? Yes? Was it helpful? I don't know,” McFaul said.

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