Russia’s Asymmetric Threat: An Expert Brief

The U.S. has issued new economic sanctions against seven individuals linked to a Russian internet troll factory.  The sanctions were announced Monday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling them a warning to foreigners seeking to interfere in U.S. elections.

The U.S. Government is bolstering its efforts to defend voting systems ahead of next year’s presidential vote, though those efforts aren’t expected to completely deter Russian interference.  Moscow has effectively used a number of low-cost, asymmetric tactics against the U.S. in what national security leaders call an overall effort to sow chaos and instability in the country.  Disinformation has been another favored tactic.

The Cipher Brief spoke with our expert John Sipher, who retired from the CIA in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Agency’s national clandestine service.  His career includes time in Moscow, and running CIA’s Russia operations. Sipher served multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station, and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, the Balkans, Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.  What follows is a transcript of his briefing on Tuesday with Cipher Brief members. (ED NOTE:  The full transcript has been edited for length and clarity.)

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