Sep 26, 2020 - World

Putin proposes non-interference pact with U.S. amid election meddling accusations

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a conference meeting on Sept. 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a conference meeting on Sept. 24. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed a deal with the United States that would guarantee neither country interfere in the other’s elections weeks before the U.S. holds its general election.

Why it matters: Putin's proposal comes amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and cyber experts that Moscow is trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Context: FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress on Sept. 17 that the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," primarily to "denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."

  • National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said in August that the Russian government is "using a range of measures" to "denigrate former Vice President Biden."
  • Evanina added that some Kremlin-linked actors are trying to support President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television, while others are spreading false claims about corruption to undermine Biden and the Democratic Party.

What they're saying: Putin said “one of the main strategic challenges of our time is the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital sphere," in a statement published Friday by the Kremlin.

  • He pushed for measures “to reboot our relations” in information and communication security by exchanging guarantees of non-intervention into the other’s internal affairs.

The big picture: Increasing evidence shows that foreign actors, particularly Russia, are looking to exploit similar themes that were used in 2016 and in 2018 to divide the country ahead of this years' election, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Russian state media accounts have sought to divide Democrats between centrists and progressives by casting Biden as an establishment centrist who can't be trusted by progressives.

Microsoft said on Sept. 10 that cyberattacks organized in Russia have consistently targeted consultants from both parties, political advocacy groups and national party organizations affiliated with the 2020 election since September of last year.

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