Vladimir Putin no friend of the United States
Affairs Committee Hearing
Efforts to Undermine
D C, Thursday March 9, 2017,____ The House Foreign Affairs Committee held
a hearing on Russian disinformation efforts and their attempts at undermining
democratic institutions across Europe. The Committee heard from an expert panel
of witnesses including the former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
U.S. Representative Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) said,
“For a long time, Vladimir Putin’s goal has been to test the strength and
cohesion of NATO. He believes that a western-led democratic order is a huge
problem that must be discredited and stopped. Due to the weak state of the
Russian economy, they’ve been forced to find different ways to exert their
influence on other states around the world.
The Russian government led by Vladimir Putin is
no friend of the United States, and we need to swiftly and aggressively
address this threat of disinformation.
I was pleased to see such a strong bipartisan
agreement on this issue, and thank Chairman
Royce for hosting such an informative and timely hearing.”
The witnesses outlined both the strategic and
tactical issues involved with countering Russia’s disinformation campaigns
against our NATO allies.
The Russians have perfected the use of
unofficial state entities such as Wikileaks and their state-sponsored news
agencies Sputnik and RT to spread their propaganda. These new methods are
increasingly difficult to counter and require new thinking from NATO leaders.
Most members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
including U.S. Representative Cook, agreed that the
U.S. should use all tools at its disposal to prioritize and counter this threat
The Committee discussed several specific examples of Russian
disinformation efforts and covert action. President Ilves of Estonia described
the Bronze Soldier Incident where the
Estonian government was attempting to relocate a Soviet-era statue in their
capital of Tallin. Russian propaganda outlets such as RT and Sputnik
exaggerated this reasonable action by claiming the Estonian government was desecrating
the graves of Soviet soldiers. This claim sparked protests by thousands of
ethnic Russians living in Estonia. These protests were paired with coordinated
and aggressive cyber-attacks, crashing the websites of the country’s most
important government, media, and banking institutions.
grossly exaggerated news stories have become a hallmark of Russian
disinformation efforts. RT and Sputnik can reach hundreds of millions of people
between their television broadcasts and online news stories. They have promoted
fake stories about the content of Wikileaks dumps, grossly exaggerated the size
and scope of NATO training exercises, and clearly lied about sexual violence
against civilians by NATO soldiers. These fake news stories are viewed and
shared on social media millions of times, serving to reinforce a sentiment of
disdain and distrust of NATO and other European institutions.
The Russians have also targeted the U.S. All 17
U.S. intelligence entities reached the unanimous conclusion that Russia is responsible
for the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and American campaign
officials’ personal email accounts in 2016. They also made multiple attempts at
accessing the RNC and other Republican campaigns. These cyberattacks revealed
just how vulnerable our systems are, and how much more we need to do to protect
our critical infrastructure from future attacks.
Just as the Russians sought to influence the
U.S., they are currently working to subvert upcoming elections in Europe. In
France, Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and his campaign have been the target of thousands of cyber-attacks and
fake news stories alleging extramarital affairs and financial corruption.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a fierce
defender of NATO and the EU, has been the recipient of thousands of fake news stories about her personal
life. The Bundestag, the German Parliament, was hacked in 2015, resulting in a
Wikileaks dump of over 2,000 documents. These same propaganda outlets have
promoted false stories questioning the results of referendums across Europe,
including the Brexit and Scottish Independence referendums.
Representative Paul Cook continued, “These Russian efforts include using blackmail and
propaganda campaigns to influence free elections, conducting cyber-attacks
against both governments and private individuals, and using targeted military
support to fracture Western alliances. Over the past several years, they
have annexed the Crimean Peninsula violating international law, bombed
civilians in Syria, supported Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East,
and have spent millions of dollars on a massive coordinated disinformation
campaign against Western democracies. We need to coordinate our response with
our NATO partners to strengthen our alliance and restore faith in our most
important institutions and democratic processes.”
U.S. Congressman Paul Cook is a member of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Natural Resources Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
According to Committee Chairman Ed Royce, “This hearing will allow us to examine
ways to better counter Russia’s weaponization of information and other hostile
Affairs Committee Hearing
Washington D C ____ U.S.
Representative Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) Tuesday March
7, 2017, that he will participate in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing
this Thursday on “Undermining Democratic Institutions and Splintering NATO:
Russian Disinformation Aims.” Rep. Cook serves as the Vice Chair on the Foreign
Representative Paul Cook said, “President
Putin is one of the most dangerous leaders in the world. I’m very concerned
about potential Russian meddling not only in our country, but around the world.
President Putin has been seeking ways to undermine our NATO alliance and
foster distrust of civic institutions. I hope this hearing can help to shed
light on these hostile covert actions by the Russians and help us form a
strategy for countering their interference in the future.”
announcing the hearing, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce noted, “For
too long, the U.S. response to Russian aggression has been weak and ineffective
– and that has to change. This hearing will allow us to examine ways to
better counter Russia’s weaponization of information and other hostile acts.”
committee hearing will take place on Thursday, March 9 at 10 AM EST and can be
viewed live on the House Foreign Affairs Committee website at: https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-undermining-democratic-institutions-splintering-nato-russian-disinformation-aims/