The Russia connectionFears of Russian cyberattacks ahead of Mexico’s Sunday elections

Mexico is holding its presidential and parliamentary on 1 July, and the last six months provided further evidence that Russia is doing in Mexico what it has effectively done in the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Italy, Sweden, the western Balkans, and many other places: Using a broad and sophisticated campaign, combining disinformation on social media and , to promote the political candidates, parties, and causes which would serve Russia’s interests.

Mexico is holding its presidential and parliamentary election on 1 July, and the last six months provided further evidence that Russia is doing in Mexico what it has effectively done in the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Italy, Sweden, the western Balkans, and many other places: Using a broad and sophisticated campaign, combining disinformation on social media and hacking, to promote the political candidates, parties, and causes which would serve Russia’s interests.

The U.S. intelligence community has been tracking this Russian campaign, benefitting from the experience the FBI, NSA, CIA, and other agencies have gained from tracking the Kremlin’s campaign to compromise U.S. democracy.

Senior U.S. national officials have highlighted the Russian interference in the Mexican election campaign. In an interview with Voice of America in the White House on 2 January 2018, then-National Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster said that one of the most important tasks in defending U.S. national security is to reveal Russia’s “insidious” interference in elections worldwide to prevent Moscow from meddling again in the democratic process.

“What we have to do is come up with a way to deal with this very sophisticated strategy [of meddling],” he said.

“This new kind of threat that Russia has really perfected…the use of disinformation and propaganda and social-media tools to really polarize societies and pit communities against each other, to weaken their resolve and their commitment.”

“The Russians were very active in Europe…in the French election recently, in the Spanish referendum in regards to Catalonia [independence]. You see them active in Mexico already. I mean, what they did in Montenegro to try to foment a coup,” he said.

“Pulling the curtain back on Russia’s destabilizing behavior, I think, is a very important first step, because once everybody sees what they’re up to, they lose a lot of their power to foment [trouble] and to pit communities against each other” (see “McMaster says U.S. must reveal “insidious” Russian meddling to prevent further attacks,” HSNW, 4 January 2018).

Later in January, McMaster said that the United States has seen “initial signs” of Russian “subversion and disinformation and propaganda” in Mexico’s presidential campaign.



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