On April 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov, the chairman of the K.G.B., ordered foreign-intelligence operatives to carry out "active measures"--aktivniye meropriyatiya--against the reëlection campaign of President Ronald Reagan. Unlike classic espionage, which involves the collection of foreign secrets, active measures aim at influencing events--at undermining a rival power with forgeries, front groups, and countless other techniques honed during the Cold War. The Soviet leadership considered Reagan an implacable militarist. According to extensive notes made by Vasili Mitrokhin, a high-ranking K.G.B. officer and archivist who later defected to Great Britain, Soviet intelligence tried to infiltrate the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, popularize the slogan "Reagan Means War!," and discredit the President as a corrupt servant of the military-industrial complex. The effort had no evident effect. Reagan won forty-nine of fifty states. Active measures were used by ...
The near-daily barrage of news and revelations, big and small, about the Trump campaign and its metastasizing ties to Russia can be hard to keep track of, even for people following the scandal closely. Story lines and players appear and disappear, sometimes for weeks or even months at a time. While there remain big, overarching questions about whether there was active conspiracy between Trump, his associates, and Russia--or merely opportunistic collusion--the answers to those questions could be amorphous and long in coming. More simply and immediately, there's plenty of information that we know we don't yet know about what went on in the campaign, from cyber meddling to clandestine meetings surveilled by US and other intelligence agencies--missing puzzle pieces that we can discern from the revelations that have come out so far. As Donald Rumsfeld famously said in the early days of the Iraq War, "As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
Russia has been accused of trying to interfere in the US presidential election, through hacked Democrat emails and social media. And in a big year of European elections, political leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere are looking over their shoulders too. Across the continent the hand of the Russian state has been perceived in an array of cyber attacks on government and state institutions, in the phenomenon of "fake news" and disinformation, and in the targeted funding of opposition groups. So how real is the threat and what form does it take? And is an explanation to be found in the words of Russia's chief of the general staff, Gen Valery Gerasimov, who wrote in a military newspaper in 2013 that "the very rules of war have changed"?
As part of our project to cover this scandal, we've assembled dossiers on the sprawling cast of characters who populate this stranger-than-fiction controversy threatening to engulf the presidency. We'll be adding to and updating these, so check back regularly. Despite his claims to the contrary, the president's ties to Russia are long, deep, and, above all, mysterious. In the 1980s, before the Soviet bloc crumbled, Trump was already trying to get a foothold behind the Iron Curtain. Since then, he has on at least three occasions announced plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in partnership with various power players and oligarchs. Before his campaign came under investigation by the FBI and assorted congressional committees, the mogul happily touted his Russian dealings: "I've done a lot of business with the Russians," he once bragged to David Letterman. Trump's relationship with Russia, and his refusal to condemn the Kremlin as evidence of its election interference became clear, raised questions during his campaign. Not only did Trump praise Vladimir Putin, but his campaign pushed to remove a plank from the Republican Party platform that called for arming Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces. Help MoJo mount a truly independent investigation into Trump's ties to Russia. Make a tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation today. He also surrounded himself with aides and advisers with curious Russian connections, including lobbyist Paul Manafort and little-known consultant Carter Page, who traveled to Moscow at the height of the presidential campaign to deliver a speech critical of US foreign policy.
"It's been a surprise that the Russians, the GRU, this unit, have felt free to go ahead and carry out this extreme malign activity … That's been a shock," the New York Times quotes an unnamed European security official as saying. Western intelligence agencies only recently became aware of this Russian covert operations unit, according to reports. This is despite Unit 29155 agents engaging in espionage activities for more than a decade. But the pieces have begun to fall into place. And the evidence reveals a Kremlin campaign to convince its people that their troubled nation is back on the path to "greatness" -- all while undermining the Western liberal democratic notion of "rules-based order".