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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.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

More Republicans denounce GOP plans to challenge election results

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on October 15 in D.C. Photo: Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images

More than a dozen House and Senate Republicans over the weekend attacked plans by colleagues to object to certifying 2020 election results, calling the effort ineffective, dangerous or lacking in evidence.

Why it matters: Although nearly all lawsuits brought by President Trump, his allies and his legal team to challenge election results have been dismissed, a group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz says they will oppose certifying Joe Biden's win.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.