Pages from the U.S. State Department's Global Engagement Center report released on Aug. 5, 2020, are seen in this photo.
Pages from the U.S. State Department's Global Engagement Center report released on Aug. 5, 2020, are seen in this photo.

The United States exposed Russia’s tactics of using a combination of “official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms” to create and amplify false narratives, in a report published on Wednesday.

While avoiding a direct discussion of American election interference by Moscow, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) traced Russian disinformation links, detailing Kremlin’s schemes of spreading disinformation through official government communications, state-funded global messaging, cultivation of proxy sources, weaponization of social media, and cyber-enabled disinformation in the newly released report.

“Beijing has also taken a page from Russia’s playbook, leveraging conspiracy websites and proxy channels to push disinformation and propaganda with the goal of undermining democratic norms and institutions,” Lea Gabrielle, special envoy and coordinator of the GEC, said during a phone briefing.

The threat of both China’s and Russia’s disinformation is real and it’s dangerous,” she added.

The report comes as the U.S. is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any person who works with or for a foreign government for the purpose of interfering with U.S. elections through certain illegal cyber activities.

“The U.S. government will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections,” Gabrielle told VOA. “The GEC works with our partners worldwide who share information on election interference and the tactics that they've seen used by Russia and others.”

Seven Kremlin-aligned disinformation proxy sites and organizations, including the Strategic Culture Foundation website and the Katehon think tank, were also profiled in GEC’s report. Those proxies amplified narratives critical of the U.S. while embracing Russian positions, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The report said Russia's general aims are "questioning the value of democratic institutions" and "weakening the international credibility and international cohesion of the United States and its allies and partners."

But a counterdisinformation community made up of governments, civil society, academia, the press, the private sector and citizens is pushing back, the State Department said.

Senior Russian officials and pro-Russian media have sought to capitalize on the fear and confusion surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic by actively promulgating conspiracy theories, the report said.

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.