Prigogine’s recognition of US interference in the elections should not be taken at face value Russia | Tech US News

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Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin’s admission that he meddled in the US election and will continue to do so is not surprising – after all, it has long been known to be true – and perhaps not to be taken entirely lightly. value.

While this is the first such admission by a figure Washington has formally accused of Moscow’s efforts to influence American politics, the timing of Prigozhin’s comments ahead of the midterm elections is also significant.

In comments posted by the press service of his restaurant company Concord on Russia’s Facebook equivalent VKontakte, Prigozhin said: “We interfered [in US elections], we interfere and will continue to interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how.”

US prosecutors previously alleged that Concord financed an operation that promoted Donald Trump during the 2016 US election – a charge that Prigozhin and company have vehemently denied.

But the public statement underscores the point of such interference operations—a point that is sometimes misunderstood.

Simply put, the key point of Russian hybrid warfare—with its emphasis on political meddling—is that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the meddling actually succeeds in any meaningful way.

Instead, an important part of its function is to actively sow distrust about the health of democratic institutions – not least by suggesting too much reach and capacity.

By saying he’s continuing to meddle — the day before the US midterm elections — he seems to be trying to create the idea that the results can’t be trusted.

And the public nature of his statement suggests that there may be other agendas at work than just his sense of enjoying impunity.

The ex-convict, known as “Putin’s chef” because his catering company carries out contracts with the Kremlin, has long been accused of sponsoring activities that try to influence Western politics and spread disinformation around the world, which has led to international sanctions.

As a result, social media companies including Meta and Twitter took action against Prigozhin’s internet operations in Africa, prompting Facebook to remove fake Prigozhin-related accounts that promoted Russian policies directed at the Central African Republic and, to a lesser extent, Madagascar. Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and South Africa.

In July, the US State Department offered a reward of up to 10 million dollars for information on Prigozhin in connection with “interference in US elections”. This comes after a 2020 report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee described how Russian operatives worked online to disrupt the 2016 election.

“Masquerading as Americans, these operatives used targeted ads, deliberately falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to mislead tens of millions of social media users in the United States,” it said.

However, in 2018, US Cyber ​​Command claimed to have disabled Russian operatives during the 2018 US congressional elections, raising questions about the scope and impact of Moscow’s ongoing efforts.

Prighozin’s latest statements come as the previously public-shy Putin confidant has decided to step out of the shadows in recent months.

One possibility is that Prigozhin’s remarks should be seen as part of his efforts to position himself in a more formal role in Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine in alliance with a faction of hardliners who blame Russian generals for botching the war.

But the mercenary-led effort of Prigozhin’s Wagner group around the key Donbas city of Bakhmut is not much more impressive than Russia’s conventional army, and progress is imperceptibly slow.

It is possible that Prigozhin himself must claim success on the hybrid warfare front, as his fighting force is visibly inferior.

But it is clear that Prigozhin, after years of denying his involvement in Wagner and influence operations – to the point of taking journalists to court – now finds it more useful to publicly emphasize his alleged usefulness to Putin.

Or maybe he just did it with an eye on who could follow Putin.

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