American intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow's own hacking of the 2016 election, according to three American officials.
The revelations demonstrate Russia's persistence in trying to sow discord among its adversaries – and show that the Kremlin apparently succeeded, as unfounded claims about Ukrainian interference seeped into Republican talking points, according to The New York Times.
American intelligence agencies believe Moscow is likely to redouble its efforts as the 2020 presidential campaign intensifies.
The accusations of a Ukrainian influence campaign center on actions by a handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized or sought to damage Mr. Trump's candidacy in 2016. They were scattershot efforts that were far from a replica of Moscow's interference, when President Vladimir V. Putin ordered military and intelligence operatives to mount a broad campaign to sabotage the American election.
It is noted the Russian intelligence officers conveyed the information to prominent Russians and Ukrainians who then used a range of intermediaries, like oligarchs, businessmen and their associates, to pass the material to American political figures and even some journalists, who were likely unaware of its origin, the officials said.
According to the publication, Mr. Putin began publicly pushing false theories of Ukrainian interference in the early months of 2017 to deflect responsibility from Russia.