The United States is renewing its commitment to help strengthen its allies and partners in the region on their journey to self-reliance, in the face of Russian efforts to undermine transatlantic unity and weaken democratic institutions through malign influence campaigns.
“In Europe and Eurasia,” noted USAID Administrator Mark Green, “The Kremlin's efforts are unmistakable. There is no other way to put it, Moscow is working relentlessly, undermining economic liberalization, reversing democratic development, and weakening the sovereignty of individual states.”
In response to this, USAID is stepping forward to better target its aid money and programs in support of democracies through a new Countering Malign Kremlin Influence Framework, or CMKI. The Framework will help increase the economic and democratic resilience of partner countries in four ways.
First, it aims to support democracy and rule of law by strengthening civil society organizations, promoting transparency and supporting cyber security of electoral systems. Such programs have already seen success in countries such as Ukraine, where the U.S. invested approximately $2.7 million this year in elections cybersecurity equipment and training for the Central Election Commission. Grants for watchdog organizations help combat corruption in public institutions to make them more resilient to Kremlin interference.
Second, the U.S. is fostering media independence throughout Eastern Europe to combat Kremlin-sponsored propaganda. With USAID funding, eleven investigative media outlets across Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia are growing their audiences, diversifying revenue, and elevating their digital media presence. Meanwhile, new analytics tools are helping citizens and journalists identify disinformation.
Lastly, USAID is promoting energy and economic independence.
“Our assistance,” said Administrator Green, “Will include working with individual states to create effective, pro-growth, legal and regulatory frameworks, and assisting them in joining well-functioning local and regional energy markets.”
This work has already begun, Administrator Green noted, with programs already underway in Ukraine and Moldova to transition both power systems and trade away from Russia and toward the West.
“We will join our friends in pushing back against authoritarian aggression and pushing forward and bolstering liberty's resilience,” said Administrator Green.
Most importantly, the Administrator emphasized that USAID remains on the side of the people of the region, including Russian citizens. “We know that the citizens of the region simply want liberty, free and fair elections, and a chance for better lives for themselves and for their children.”