The Russian Foreign Ministry has blasted USAID's new Russia-centric policy document, calling it a ghost of the Cold War past and nothing short of "malicious anti-Russian propaganda."
In a press statement released Saturday, the foreign ministry said the very name of the agency document "suggests that USAID is not at all aimed at creating an atmosphere of cooperation on the world stage, but serves as an instrument of ideological struggle and propaganda."
Charging the strategy with being aimed at spreading "Russophobia in the world, especially among Russia's neighbouring states," the foreign ministry suggested that behind the imaginary danger of 'Russian meddling' is a "desire to subordinate these countries to US influence," with the US seeking both geopolitical and economic benefits, including efforts "to force Europe to buy more expensive American LNG."
Calling the approval of such a programme at such a high level by the current administration "discouraging," the foreign ministry suggested that its content and tone didn't correspond to the "constructive tone of the recent meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump at the G20 Summit in Osaka," and argued that it was clear that some "influential functionaries in Washington were trying with all their might to prevent the normalization of Russian-US relations."
USAID's New Policy Doc
On Thursday, USAID, the influential US agency charged with distributing non-military aid and providing 'development assistance' to other countries, released a "Countering Malign Kremlin Influence (CMKI) Development Framework, with the document featuring a series of bulletted recommendations on how the US can shore up "increased resilience" to Russia among its partner nations.
Among the document's recommendations are steps to "counter efforts to undermine democratic institutions and the rule of law," "resist the manipulation of information," and to "reduce energy and economic vulnerabilities."
These include the creation of tools and support for "reform-minded leaders and civil-society voices," support for a "free, independent media" and the promotion of "media-literacy programs," support for "independent regulatory authorities" in the energy sector, and assistance for "integration with western economies" and the opening up of "new markets for US businesses."
The strategy includes a series of examples from USAID's efforts in Ukraine, Moldova, and the Balkans in recent years to counter the so-called "malign Kremlin influence" in these areas.
The USAID document is one of a series of Russia-hostile policy white papers and legislative measures to come out of Washington in recent years amid the debunked Russiagate election meddling scandal and the broader deterioration in relations between Russia and the West after the 2014 US and EU-backed coup d'etat in Ukraine. Last week, the Pentagon published a document called "Russian Strategic Intentions" which echoed USAID's claims about "Russian malign influence" and described alleged Russian policy of threatening, compromising, coercing and disorienting states through military, economic, media, cultural and religious means.