The unrest and riots that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death is more evidence that a hybrid war is being waged against the United States, aimed at undermining its moral leadership. The war has a clear plan and intent but continues to go unnoticed in the U.S. While experts point out that Russia and China, through their official and covert tools on social media, are actively supporting the protests in the United States, only a few American politicians are timidly claiming the possibility of Russia’s involvement in the riots. The majority of observers remain silent.
This amnesia is impressive, as the involvement of Russian intelligence in provoking racial tensions in the U.S. and radicalization of both the African American community and the American far-right has been well researched and proven since 2016. As a result of its investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee has released material showing that during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, one of the main targets of Russian influence operations were communities of color.
According to several reports, Russian troll farms attempted to recruit African Americans through social media, encouraging them to participate in a variety of street protests and demonstrations. To carry out their propaganda, Russia created a high volume of websites housing content devoted to coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as police violence. However, it should be pointed out that their efforts fell short being that a majority of African American voters went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But the point was to suppress voter turnout which they succeeded at.
The organization that carried out these operations of influence is located in St. Petersburg, Russia and is called the Internet Research Agency. It is also known as the Kremlin troll factory, which is responsible for misinformation both inside and outside Russia, and whose representatives have been found guilty of crimes against U.S. national security. It is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin who is also under personal U.S. sanctions. The same Prigozhin is linked to the funding of the so-called Wagner Group, an alleged Russian private military unit involved in military conflicts on the side of Russia’s allies around the world, including Ukraine’s Donbas, Syria, Libya, and Sudan.
George Floyd protest in Eugene, Oregon. (David Geitgey Sierralupe)
Analysts believe that Wagner Group is not a private military company, but a cover for Russian special services, including Russian special operation forces. From this point of view, the combination of special forces in the form of Wagner Group and psychological operations in the form of the Internet Research Agency under one roof looks extremely natural. This is a typical set of means of unconventional warfare for which special operations forces are responsible. The use of internal contradictions in the enemy country to set some social groups against others is a typical method of unconventional warfare.
As of now, Russia’s activities to radicalize American society have not stopped. Since 2017, Russia has established a network of free combat training centers for African Americans in the U.S. An example of such a network is the Black Fist self-defense program, the centers of which have been discovered in New York, Florida, California, and Michigan.
At the same time, Russia is actively recruiting and radicalizing representatives of the American far-right to further pin classes against each other. These facts are also well known, and the Russian Imperial Movement, one of the Russian groups involved in the military training of the American far-right, was recognized by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
Thus, the Russian secret services are systematically working to create the preconditions in the United States for social conflict on racial grounds, radicalization, and control over the course of such a conflict. It is worth noting that similar attempts to resolve the racial war in the United States were already made by the Soviet and Chinese intelligence services during the Cold War.
Russia’s hybrid aggression against Ukraine also began in a similar fashion. Long before the appearance of Russian little green men in the Crimea and Donbas, Russian special services skillfully worked to divide Ukrainian society, radicalize both pro-Russian and anti-Russian groups, and used fighting and military clubs to recruit and train future rioters and militants.
During that period, the Ukrainian government was controlled by pro-Russian politicians who either ignored these anti-state processes or took a direct part in them. This made it impossible to neutralize these processes in the early stages by Ukrainian special services.
What is erupting in the United States is no longer an early stage of hybrid aggression.
Power in the United States is in the hands of pro-American, not pro-Russian politicians, so we want to believe that they will be able to overcome their own political contradictions for the sake of national security and national interests.
Also availavle on INTERNATIONAL POLICY DIGEST