The US Department of Defense reported in May that two top US intelligence officials testified before a Senate Armed Services Committee on global threats to the United States and its allies emanating from China, Russia, and Iran as well as terrorist organizations. In their testimony, the officials identified Russia as one of the most serious foreign influence threats and which seeks to “divide Western alliances, undermine US global standing, amplify discord inside the United States, and influence US voters and decision making.” According to a US DOD press release:
May 10, 2022 Army Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Avril D. Haines, director of national intelligence, spoke to the committee on the U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 assessment of worldwide threats. “The invasion has demonstrated Russia’s intent to overturn the U.S.-led, rules-based, post-Cold War international order, expand its control over the former Soviet Union and reclaim what it regards as its rightful position on the world stage,” Berrier said. […] China also remains a pacing threat and a major security challenge to the United States and its allies, he said. “Beijing has long viewed the United States as a strategic competitor, [and] China is capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.” […] Russia’s and China’s capabilities include more lethal, ballistic and cruise missiles, the general told the committee. China is growing nuclear stockpiles of modernized conventional forces and a range of gray-zone measures, such as the use of ambiguous unconventional forces, foreign proxies, information manipulation, cyber-attacks and economic coercion, he said. […] Beyond its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow presents a serious cyber threat, a key space competitor one of the most serious foreign influence threats to the United States, Haines told the committee. Using its intelligence services proxies’ wide-ranging influence tools, the Russian government seeks to not only pursue its own interests, but also to divide Western alliances, undermine U.S. global standing, amplify discord inside the United States, and influence U.S. voters and decision making, she said. Additionally, “[the] Iranian regime continues to threaten U.S. interests as it tries to erode U.S. influence in the Middle East and trench its influence, … project power in neighboring states and minimize threats to regime stability,” Haines said:
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Russia is a prolific actor in the influence operations space, well known for its attempts to interfere in the elections of democratic countries, particularly in the United States. Most of its influence operations appear to be conducted via cyber activities.
China is known for using “soft power” to support its goals of expanding global influence. It has been actively attempting to interfere in the current US elections, albeit at a smaller scale than Russia, and to sow confusion rather than support either candidate.
Iran is one of the most active influence actors in its use of hackers and other cyber operations. The country also employs a large network of affiliated groups and organizations, such as the Islamic Center of England. Iran also funds PressTV, a global media operation in support of its goals.
In October 2020, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that the US Department of Defense named Russia, China, and Iran as the leading players that cyber experts were looking at concerning the November election.