People who undertake foreign interference activities may not be easily identifiable, and it may not be obvious they are acting on behalf of a foreign power.

These people seeking to conduct acts of foreign interference could attempt to create a sense of personal connection with, and obligation from, an individual which they can then use to coerce or influence decisions in their favor.

This is often done by engaging in activities to make targeted individuals feel a sense of obligation or indebtedness, such as providing:

  • gifts
  • donations
  • expenses-paid travel
  • facilitated immigration processes
  • networking opportunities
  • preferential access to senior officials or businesspeople who are located in the target country or in their home country
  • seminars, study tours, business inspections or similar opportunities.

While these activities are a natural part of our society’s interactions, they can be used as part of foreign interference attempts.

They might continue for long periods without a direct request for assistance or active coercion. However as the sense of obligation grows so does the potential for harm.

A foreign power seeking to undertake foreign interference may deploy any number of more confrontational methods to exploit or create vulnerabilities including:

  • exploiting personal, family, financial or business interests
  • exploiting an individual’s poor security practices
  • obtaining, or manufacturing a situation to obtain, compromising material
  • crafting romantic relationships to obtain privileged information.

Potential warning signs of interactions and relationships transitioning to foreign interference could include:

  • reduced transparency such as requests to transition to less open or more informal forms of communication or to reduce potential public oversight of an engagement
  • a relationship being ongoing and privileged to the exclusion of sections of the community
  • a suggested or implied quid pro quo
  • attempts to hide a relationship or interaction
  • a request, suggestion or pressure to influence others to take a particular position.​

Russian interference in the democratic processes of the European Union

1. Russia has used several methods of interference, including trying to weaken and divide the EU’s Member States, trying to influence European political parties, mostly on the far right, and trying to destabilize the EUs neighboring countries;

2. Russia has for several years been carrying out disinformation campaigns across both traditional media outlets and social media platforms, cyberattacks, elite capture and attacks, which also sought to prepare the ground for its aggression against Ukraine;

3. Several investigations have revealed that electoral rules have been breached or circumvented, in particular the existing provisions on the transparency of election campaign financing with allegations of covert funding from third country sources, notably from Russia;

4. Recent press sources have unveiled allegations that a Member of the European Parliament was working on behalf of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB); and there are other claims and suspicions about more Russian agents in the European Parliament;

5. Russia still has considerable influence in the Western Balkans, notably in Serbia and Republica Srpska, one of the entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where it has the power to interfere in regional attempts at reconciliation, integration and reform towards democratization;

6. Funding from outside the EU of political activities and politicians within the European Union before and after 24 February 2022, in particular from Russia, continues to be revealed and poses a risk for the integrity of democratic processes in the EU Member States and requires thorough investigation;

7. Instances of (Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference ( FIMI) attacks on EU and national institutions have increased following the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine;

8. Continual unveiling of evidence of Russian interference in the run-up to all major national and European elections, as highlighted in the final reports of its special committees on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE and INGE2);

9. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has exposed the extent of foreign manipulation of information and information threats to the EU and its immediate neighborhood, namely the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries:

10.Russia has connections with several political parties and politicians in the EU; and even in the case where the law limits the sources of political funding, Russian actors have found ways to circumvent them and offered support to their allies by taking out loans with foreign banks (such as in the case of the National Front party in 2016), purchase and commercial agreements (such as in the allegations reported by Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung on 17 May 2019 about the FPÖ party and by Buzzfeeds and L’Espresso on 10 July 2019 about Lega per Salvini premier), and facilitation of financial activities (as reported by the British press about the Leave.eu campaign);

11. Much Russian interference favor anti-EU, extremist and populist candidates;




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