SKOPJE, Macedonia – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Macedonia Monday, condemning Russian efforts to use its money and influence to build opposition to an upcoming vote that could pave the way for the country to join NATO — a move Moscow opposes.
Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Skopje that there is “no doubt” that Moscow has been funding pro-Russian groups in order to defeat the referendum on a name change later this month, Fox News reports.
“They have transferred money and they’re also conducting broader influence campaigns, We ought to leave the Macedonian people to make up their own minds. We say right up front in open press what we think. We’re not passing money to people behind the scenes, we’re not putting together parties that we control or try to control. No doubt that they have transferred money and they are also conducting broader influence campaigns.We do not want to see Russia doing there what they have tried to do in so many other countries. It is unclear how effective Moscow’s efforts to defeat the referendum have been.” ~ SOD Mattis
“There is this influence campaign to try to buy off people and try to support pro-Russian organizations. The U.S. is aware of financial support that Moscow has given to pro-Russian individuals and groups that are working to undermine the referendum. Russia is swooping in now with disinformation and other forms of malign influence to try to change the minds of the Macedonian people.” ~ Laura Cooper deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.