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UPDATE 2-Russia is targeting 2018 U.S. elections, U.S. intel chiefs say

From Reuters - February 13, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. national security officials said on Tuesday they had no doubt Russia will try to interfere in the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections, adding Moscow believes it succeeded in its effort to undermine U.S. democracy by meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Russia, as well as other foreign entities, were likely to pursue more cyber attacks on U.S. and European elections this year and beyond.

Persistent and disruptive cyber operations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, he told an annual Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.

Coats said that effort would include the U.S. elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, as well as a host of positions in state governments.

Frankly, the United States is under attack, he said.

U.S. spy agencies said last year they had determined Russia used hacking and propaganda in an effort to tilt the 2016 presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. Russia has repeatedly denied this.

There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations, Coats said.

Coats described a range of ways in which Russia might try to influence this years vote.

At a minimum, we expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople, and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States, Coats said in prepared testimony.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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