Our Takes

“Elections are human-run endeavors and they are imperfect. But the goal is to catch the mistakes quickly and correct them quickly”, Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said on FOX 5 Washington DC.

The European Parliament election results signal a rightward shift in the bloc’s political center of gravity—but the extent of this shift depends on the far right’s ability to form a united bloc and if the center right will engage with them, Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas and Program Assistant Rita Barbosa Lobo write for GMF.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • European Elections: Russian state media and Russian intelligence-linked outlets focused on the rise of far-right, Euroskeptic parties in France and Germany in the European Parliament elections and explained away the lack of a more sweeping “right turn” in Europe as a byproduct of US “sponsorship” and a “Russophobic consensus”. Russian outlets, however, still delighted in the “crushing defeat” of French President Emmanuel Macron’s and German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz’s parties in the elections, which Life.ru claimed “confirm[ed] their inadequacy as both national and European politicians”. RT also stated that the poor showings were evidence that “voters in the EU are against escalation [in Ukraine]”.
  • Moldova: With elections in Moldova a month away, Russian messengers attacked Moldova’s pro-Western government last week for allegedly “sell[ing] its own ideology” in exchange for an “improved economic situation”. They also amplified comments by opposition leader Igor Dodon, who claimed that “the biggest problem in the EU is the influence of the United States” and that “post-Soviet countries should rally around [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to promote his ideas”. Russian intelligence-linked sites also suggested that the current Moldovan government is being “persuaded to agree to the Ukrainian invasion of Transnistria”, the pro-Russian breakaway enclave of Moldova.

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • BRICS in Russia: PRC messaging promoted Wang Yi’s presence at a meeting of the recently expanded BRICS Foreign Ministers in Russia. On X, PRC diplomats in countries including Czechia, Ethiopia, India, the Philippines, and South Africa all advertised the gathering. Global Times shared a graph showing the group’s economic rise compared to the G7, and state media commentators announced that, unlike the G7, “BRICS is the future” and highlighted the group’s ongoing de-dollarization efforts.
  • Stabbing in Jilin: After four US college instructors were wounded in a stabbing attack in Jilin in Northeast China on Monday, the images of the wounded victims circulated widely on social media. In response to questions from foreign outlets in its Tuesday press conference, the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs minimized it as “an isolated incident” and tried to provide reassurances that the attack would not harm “people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the [United States]”. This line was echoed by PRC diplomats and state media. On X, a pro-PRC commentator highlighted the ignorance of “Western media” for not naming the stabber correctly.

News and Commentary

US intelligence leaders ready to notify public of foreign election interference: US intelligence officials announced that they are prepared to issue a public warning about attempted foreign interference in the 2024 US election, including influence campaigns and deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence (AI), if they conclude that the attempts “could affect the election outcome”. Co-Managing Director David Salvo told the Dispatch, “It’s important that we are learning more about the decision-making process that would drive the US intelligence community to release threat intelligence about foreign interference in the presidential election. The more we know, the more trust Americans can have in the information that is released. One potential shortcoming of the process is that the decision to make information public will ultimately be made by senior leaders in the intelligence community, the majority of whom are political appointees. That will, despite the best of their intentions, lead to accusations of politicization of intelligence. Canada, for example, removes political officials from such decisions precisely to avoid the stain of partisanship.”

PRC-backed cyberespionage campaign extends beyond Dutch targets: Dutch intelligence officials announced that a PRC-linked cyberespionage campaign that breached the Dutch Ministry of Defense is likely “more extensive than previously known”, with hackers maintaining access to computer systems even after software updates and infiltrating dozens of Western governments, international organizations, and numerous defense companies. Research Analyst Etienne Soula said, “The cyber campaign brought to light by the Dutch Ministry of Defense is but the latest example of the PRC’s constant and global efforts to infiltrate its rivals’ information technology (IT) systems. The scale and sophistication of this campaign is a reminder that cyber operations remain a key component of the PRC’s toolkit when seeking to gather or steal data from democratic states and institutions.”

In Case You Missed It

  • Germany was Russian disinformation campaigns’ biggest target leading up to the European Parliament elections, according to a spokesperson from the European Commission.
  • The United States and Poland launched a joint project to support Ukraine’s efforts to combat Russian disinformation, alongside representatives from 12 countries.
  • A pro-Russian hacking group targeted Dutch political parties with cyberattacks, causing website problems for three parties on the day the country voted in the European Parliament elections.
  • PRC and Russian information campaigns are weaponizing female likeness online, employing fake social media accounts with female avatars—some AI-generated, others stolen from authentic users—to spread propaganda.
  • A Russian intelligence operative conducted influence operations in Europe for years, offering to pay journalists to plant propaganda articles and arranging journalists’ trips to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.

ASD in the News

Despite Shift To Far Right In EU Vote, Von Der Leyen Says Centrists Held Against ‘Extremes’. Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas quoted in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Africa News Tonight: ANC explores options in South Africa, experts warn more needed to fight disinformation, China expands Africa arms trade. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer interviewed on VOA Africa

Russian propaganda includes deepfakes and sham websites. ASD’s Information Laundromat highlighted in NPR

乌克兰和平峰会在即,中国缺席会重创其国际声誉吗? (With the Ukraine peace summit just around the corner, will China’s absence hit its international reputation?) Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in VOA Chinese

Έρευνα ΣΚΑΪ: Ρωσική προπαγάνδα μέσω ιστοσελίδων και στην Ελλάδα (SKAI investigation: Russian propaganda spreads through websites in Greece). Senior Fellow Bret Schafer interviewed on SKAI.gr

Elecciones europeas: la extrema derecha apuesta a una conquista inédita del poder (European elections: the far right is betting on an unprecedented conquest of power). Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas quoted in La Tercera

赞习近平是“卓越领导人”:谷歌AI机器人的亲北京“立场”让美议员担忧 (Praise Xi Jinping as an “excellent leader”: Google’s AI bot’s pro-Beijing “stance” worries US lawmakers). ASD/Brookings Institution report highlighted in VOA Chinese

Quote of the Week

“We came out with guidance on how we’re going to tabulate ballots to get the information to Nevadans when they want it on election night. Because inaccurate information has been put out there, what my team has gone through … has been pretty significant.”


—Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, speaking at a virtual panel hosted by Issue One last week about the potential impact of AI chatbots spreading disinformation about elections.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.