The next stage in Russia’s influence campaign in France is about to begin, seeking to undermine the democratic process of electing national officials. This is now a threat to French national security. This is now a Russian standardized practice, and the West is doing little to nothing to counter Russia’s propaganda, disinformation, and information warfare.
It already started, the same Twitter handles that were used in the US election have shifted to France, complete with ready-made graphics. Shades of the St. Petersburg Internet Research Agency at 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russia is changing the game, making new rules, and is not playing well with other countries. They use the law, diplomacy, the military and the economy as a cover for their campaign of influence, using information as a weapon against the West. This is information warfare which is unethical, immoral, and often illegal. It seeks to sow divisiveness and chaos, promote Russian national interests, and undermine democracy in the West.
This is a growth industry, the next target will be Germany.
The West must form a unified approach and make Russia accountable. The West, collectively, needs to takes steps to identify and counter Russian misdeeds.
This is Russian Information Warfare against the West, against us all.
FEBRUARY 8, 2017 – 2:40 PM
France’s spy agency believes Russia intends to try to influence France’s upcoming elections in favor of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
On Wednesday, Le Canard Enchaîné said that France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) believes that Russia will help Le Pen by way of bots that will flood the internet with millions of positive posts about Le Pen — and by publishing her opponents’ confidential emails. The level of threat is so high that the next defense meeting at the Élysée, France’s presidential palace, will be on this subject, the paper said.
France has clearly already been bracing for outside interference. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian already said France wants “to learn lessons from the future” following American allegations of Russian influence in their elections. WikiLeaks, believed by U.S. Democrats to have worked with Russia in the past presidential election, already promoted documents from its archives tied to center-right candidate François Fillon and center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron. Russian state-sponsored media already suggested Macron is a U.S. agent who is lobbying on behalf of banks and that he has a secret gay lover, a wholly unsubstantiated claim made by Kremlin-backed propaganda pusher Dmitry Kiselyov. Macron, surging in the polls, is perhaps the candidate most likely to take on Le Pen in the second round of presidential voting this May, which polls, for what they’re worth, say he would win.
What is new is the extent to which the French government itself seems to be trying to deal with this perceived threat to its election, now just over two months away.
Le Pen’s National Front seems less perturbed. Its vice president, Florian Philippot, told French media outlet RTL.fr that they, too, are counting on the state to preserve the security of the presidential elections.
To be fair, leaks by Russia aren’t the only ones hurting Le Pen’s opposition. Le Canard Enchaîné is the same paper that revealed that François Fillon paid his wife and children almost one million euros from state coffers to serve as his parliamentary aides, and that his wife received 45,000 euros as a severance package.
Despite all the furor, Fillon has said he will not pull out of the race, proving that some political parties, at least, do not need Russian meddling to hurt their chances of winning.