“We’re on the brink of potentially having two European countries where Russia is the balance of disruptor of their leadership,” said US Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate’s powerful Intelligence Committee.
According to him, it is safe to warn that, like what has already been tried in Montenegro and the Netherlands, Russia is carrying out various undercover activities aimed at getting involved in the French and German elections. The production and dissemination of “fake news” would participate in such an effort of political influence.
Hence, it is assumed that, like the unemployed American worker in Detroit, the unemployed French worker in Dunkirk would vote Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the National Front (FN), mainly because of the Russians.
While it is true that the competence of the Russian intelligence services in matters of dezinformatsiya has been recognized by experts since the Soviet era, they do not have the monopoly of it. The Russian channel Russia Today (RT), often cited as a means of disinformation, is only available on the Internet, while many American productions are directly broadcast on French audiovisual channels.
Without judging the quality of the programs, it seems rather realistic to consider that, in spite of the “Russian effort”, the influence of Russia towards the French electorate is probably smaller compared with other foreign countries. Finally, the United States is also conducting large-scale operations related to France like the cyber-intrusion during the 2012 presidential election or the espionage of French political leaders subcontracted to BND’s German colleagues.
If the policy that’s behind the accusations of “there’s always a Russian near you, even inside your fridge,” is quite a fair game, only a minority of analysts thinks that Russia has the means to interfere deeply in the French elections.
Believing that the average American worker voted Donald Trump because of Vladimir Putin is a significant analytical error, even though no one, including French intelligence agencies, doubts that every major country is trying to gain greater influence in Europe.