The tiny country of Latvia can teach the United States a few things about how to counter Russian meddling in politics. One important lesson from Russian efforts to exacerbate ethnic conflict, spread disinformation and possibly compromise Latvian officials is that Russian methods keep changing, according to advice from Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. “When it comes to the use of information as a weapon or propaganda, Russia does not have an approach that one size fits all,” Rinkēvičs told USA TODAY on Wednesday. “There are different ways of conducting political meddling and also during political elections.” Rinkēvičs was in Washington for meetings to prepare for an April 3 summit with President Trump and the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Rinkēvičs and his counterparts from the former Soviet republics of Estonia and Lithuania discussed how to counter Russian “disinformation efforts and malicious cyber activity” when they met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, the State Department said.
Latvia’s experience is relevant to the U.S. ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Director of National Security Dan Coats told lawmakers Tuesday that Russia is “highly likely” to continue its campaign of disruption this year, using even more aggressive cyberattacks and influence operations than in the 2016 presidential election.
Russia sees U.S. elections and those in allied countries “as opportunities to undermine democracy, sow discord and undermine our values,” Coats said.