A Kremlin Think Tank Designed a Plan to Meddle in the US Election

The documents, prepared by a think tank linked to Vladimir Putin, called for a major propaganda campaign and was circulated at the top of the Russian government, according to Reuters.

Apr 20 2017, 3:37pm

Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

According to several former and current US officials, the Russians outlined a plan to undermine the 2016 presidential election in a set of classified documents prepared by a think tank linked to Vladimir Putin, Reuters reports.

The two documents, drafted under the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies in June and October, put forth a strategic plan to undermine US voters' faith in the election by spewing propaganda on social media and drumming up information about voter fraud. Though not addressed to any one person specifically, the documents were circulated at the top of the Russian government, outlining a game plan to damage Hillary Clinton's credibility and reputation and skew US voters to elect a president who would go easy on Russia.

Many of the sources said the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies operates as the Kremlin's in-house foreign-policy think tank, as it's run by former foreign intelligence officials who were appointed by Putin's office. 

"Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map," a former US intelligence official told Reuters. 

What the documents don't include is any information regarding the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and various people on Clinton's campaign staff. US officials said the cyberattacks were part of a separate intelligence campaign, but alongside the propaganda the documents outline, acted as a one-two punch aimed at the US election. It was after reviewing these documents that the Obama administration concluded Russia had meddled in our election, which resulted in new sanctions slapped against the country.

On Thursday, the think tank denied playing part in the US election and slammed the report as false.

In a statement, the director of the think tank, Mikhail Fradkov, said, "It seems, that in their conspiratorial consciousness the authors of this conceit did not weigh reality against their coveted fantasies, in order to once again draw attention to the theme... of Russia's 'participation' in the pre-election campaign in the United States."