RUSSIA is on a specifically designed path to discredit the West and undermine trans-Atlantic ties using political tactics, a new report has claimed.
Vladimir Putin’s nation has been hell bent on manoeuvring itself into a position of strength across continents, and is secretly succeeding, an American-based research group said.
The report released on Thursday said Moscow had co-opted sympathetic politicians, strived to dominate energy markets and other economic sectors.
It also claimed the Kremlin undermined anti-corruption measures in an attempt to gain sway over governments in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Serbia, and Slovakia.
Titled ‘The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Eastern and Central Europe’, the dossier accuses Russia of attempting to undermine the West with a series of mastermind moves.
Similar accusations were made after a 16-month study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and the Sofia, Bulgaria-based Center for the Study of Democracy.
The ‘Kremlin Playbook’ report said: “In certain countries, Russian influence has become so pervasive and endemic that it has challenged national stability as well as a country’s Western orientation and Euro-Atlantic stability.”
Russian politics has been under the world’s watch recently as relations with the US break down over the Syrian conflict.
The US recently pulled out of talks with Russian leaders over that country’s handling of the war against ISIS in Syria.
President Barack Obama has also accused Russia of hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee to manipulate the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump.
Russia has denied the claims.
While Russia is unashamedly taking on the US, ‘The Kremlin Playbook’ claims Russia is also planning its presence in Europe, including what was referred to as “megadeal” projects.
One example given was the €12.2billion contract to build two new nuclear reactors in Hungary after Russia secured contracts.
Bulgaria, according to the report has become vulnerable to Russian takeover due to the former Soviet Union’s striking economic strength in that region.
Heather Conley, a former US official who penned the report, said her findings were cause for concern.
She said: “The first step is to acknowledge that which is happening.
“What is at stake here is how we view ourselves and the functioning of our democracy.”
It is not the only study this year to highlight Russia’s measures in the region.
British Army research group the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research said in February: ”Russia has opened a new political front within Europe by supporting the far right against the liberal European Union.”
It also said governments such as those in Hungary and Greece “openly sympathise” with Mr Putin.
The authors stated: ”The result is that there is a substantial ‘fifth column’ in western and central Europe which weakens our response to Russian aggression.”