The Associated Press (AP) is suggesting that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is interfering in U.S. immigration politics to help block U.S. military aid for Ukraine’s war with Russia.

“For Vladimir Putin, victory in Ukraine may run through Texas’ Rio Grande Valley,” says the March 1 AP report, adding:

In recent weeks, Russian state media and online accounts tied to the Kremlin have spread and amplified misleading and incendiary content about U.S. immigration and border security. The campaign seems crafted to stoke outrage and polarization before the 2024 election for the White House, and experts who study Russian disinformation say Americans can expect more to come as Putin looks to weaken support for Ukraine and cut off a vital supply of aid.

The vague claim of foreign influence operations is humdrum because U.S. citizens know that many nations for decades have used media to influence U.S. attitudes.

But the claim is also politically skewed. For example, the article includes many vague terms — “seems,” “misleading,” and “may” — as it suggests that U.S. migration politics are influenced by Russia. But it provides no means to gauge the scale or impact of Russian influence or spending on American immigration politics.

The AP report described Russian reports about a Texas protest and growing demands for a border wall while admitting that “some [Russian] claims were posted by accounts with tiny audiences; others were made by state media sites with millions of followers.”

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Any Russian spending is likely very small compared to domestic campaigns. For example, the two U.S. candidates and their supporters in the 2020 election spent $5.7 billion trying to influence media coverage.

Meanwhile, multiple U.S. polls show that Americans already view migration as a top issue in their 2024 elections, despite many pro-migration articles in the establishment U.S. media. Sixty-one percent of Americans told a Monmouth University poll that they view federal migration policy as a “very serious” issue, according to a press release, which added:

The 6 in 10 who describe it as a very serious problem represents a jump from [prior] polls … This rise is most notable among Republicans, from 66% very serious in 2015 to 77% in 2019 and 91% in the current poll.

Among independents, 58% say this is a very serious problem, up from just over 4 in 10 who said the same in both 2015 (42%) and 2019 (43%). A similar level of concern among Democrats now stands at 41%, after dipping from 33% in 2015 to 26% in 2019.

The AP article declared that Russian media reports are inaccurate but provided no links or quotes so that Americans could verify the AP’s reasonable claim:

In social media posts, online videos and stories on websites, these accounts misstate the impact of immigration, highlight stories about crimes committed by immigrants, and warn of dire consequences if the U.S. doesn’t crack down at its border with Mexico. Many are misleading, filled with cherry-picked data or debunked rumors.

The AP did cite Russian coverage about the murder of an American, allegedly by a Venezuelan migrant: “This week the accounts seized on the recent death of a Georgia nursing student and the arrest of a Venezuelan man who had entered the U.S. illegally and was allowed to stay to pursue his immigration case.”

But the AP’s passive-voice claim and its refusal to say her name — Laken Riley — illustrate the establishment media’s reluctance to deal with the downside of migration and also helps to explain why Americans are seeking news elsewhere. For example, many Americans get their immigration news from Breitbart News.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters after a divided Senate passed an emergency spending package to provide send military aid to Ukraine and Israel, replenish U.S. weapons systems, and provide food, water and other humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 13, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The AP article also fails to mention that Democrats also saw a political advantage in linking the two issues of Ukraine and the U.S. border. In early February, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tried and failed to pass a bill that supposedly swapped stronger U.S. border laws for Ukraine aid. The bill was instantly rejected by the Republican caucus because the secretly drafted border bill further loosened U.S. border security.

Top Democrats are now refusing to back Republican-drafted U.S. border protections to a potential political swap that would overcome GOP opposition to spending another $60 billion on protecting Ukraine’s borders from Russian invaders. “We have got to do Ukraine now,” Schumer said after a February 27 meeting in the White House. “There are other issues, like the border that we should address, but not now.”

On February 29, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) re-linked the two issues by declaring he would support most of the GOP’s H.R. 2 border bill in exchange for the Ukraine funding.

MSNBC is also talking up the claimed influence of Russian online agitprop.