A top secret document from a meeting of Vladimir Putin and his top advisers has shed new light on Russia’s covert operations.
Leaked Kremlin documents appear to confirm that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorised an operation to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US election.
The documents in question, obtained by The Guardian and dismissed as “a great fiction” by Russia, appear to haveon January 22, 2016.
At this point,was the early frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, which he went on to claim. He then beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in November’s general election.
The most significant Kremlin document, labelled No 32-04/vd, describes Mr Trump as the “most promising candidate” from Russia’s perspective.
It says he is an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex” and his ascent to the presidency “will definitely lead to the destabilisation of the US’s sociopolitical system”.
“It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his election to the post of US president,” the paper says.
It also alludes to kompromat (compromising material) that Russia supposedly has on Mr Trump, referring to “certain events” that happened during his previous visits to Moscow as a businessman.
Security council members are told they can find details in appendix five, paragraph five. Notably, however, The Guardian has not seen the appendix and does no idea what, if anything, it contains.
As others have already pointed out, the fact that the appendix was not also leaked is further reason to approach these documents with scepticism.
The newspaper says it has shown the material to independent experts, who say it “appears to be genuine”.
“Incidental details come across as accurate. The overall tone and thrust is said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking,” it reports.
It also says Western intelligence agencies have “been aware” of the documents for several months and have “carefully examined them”.
And it has confirmed that a meeting of Russia’s national security council did indeed occur at the Kremlin on January 22.from the occasion.
Among the attendees were Putin, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, GRU (military intelligence agency) head Sergei Shoigu, SVR (foreign intelligence service) Mikhail Fradkov and FSB (spy agency) head Alexander Bortnikov.
At the time, the Kremlin said the meeting was convened to discuss economic policy.
The leaked paper does not just focus on Mr Trump. It also includes a more general assessment of America and its weaknesses, highlighting an “anti-establishment mood” and a “deepening political gulf between left and right”.
After the security council meeting, Putin issued a new decree setting up a secret commission, whose task was to achieve the goals laid out in No 32-04/vd. The SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, was told to gather more information to support the commission.
Several weeks later, Russian hackers breached the servers of the Democratic National Committee. The material they found, including thousands of private emails, was released before the election in an attempt to harm Ms Clinton’s campaign.
US intelligence agencies long ago concluded “with high confidence” that Putin authorised a campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories designed to hurt Ms Clinton.
In a statement ahead of President Joe Biden’s bilateral summit with Putin last month, Mr Trumpover that conclusion from his own country’s intelligence experts.