Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday. Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort meant to reach American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence. The U.S. government’s chief counterintelligence executive warned in a rare public statement Friday about Russia’s continued use of internet trolls to advance their goals. Even apart from politics, the twin crises buffeting the country and much of the world — the pandemic and race relations and protests — have offered fertile territory for misinformation or outfight falsehoods. Trump himself has come under scrutiny for sharing misinformation about a disproven drug for treating the coronavirus in videos that were taken down by Twitter and Facebook. Officials described the Russian disinformation as part of an ongoing and persistent effort to advance false narratives and cause confusion. They did not say whether the effort behind these particular websites was directly related to the November election, though some of the coverage appeared to denigrate Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, and called to mind Russian efforts in 2016 to exacerbate race relations in America and drive corruption allegations against U.S. political figures.