Disinfo: Poland pursues aggressive regional project Intermarium

Summary

Polish foreign policy in Central and Eastern Europe reflects its plans to take Belarus and Ukraine under control and to create a buffer zone between Poland and Russia. In his inaugural speech, Polish president Andrzej Duda announced plans to revive Intermarium, a sanitary cordon in Eastern Europe under Poland’s aegis. This idea is actively promoted by Poland-based Belsat TV channel which broadcasts to the Belarusian population. The harsh criticism of Nazi collaborators by Belarusian writer Yakub Kolas can be applied to present-time Belarusian promoters of Polish ideas.

Disproof

This message is a conspiracy theory consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about Poland's hostile plans towards Belarus and its imperial ambitions. It is also aimed to discredit Belarusian independent media, Belsat TV channel in particular, by drawing parallels with Nazi collaborators. A series of TV programmes by Belsat TV channel, titled Intermarium, discuss Belarusian historical events rather than promote Polish imperialist ideology as alleged. In his inaugural speech, Polish president Andrzej Duda did not voice plans to revive a buffer zone in Eastern Europe under Polish patronage, as alleged. Speaking about the importance to have good neighbourly relations, Duda said: "We have to talk to our partners in Central and Eastern Europe, to the north of the Baltic Sea basin up to the Adriatic Sea." Nowhere in his speech did the Polish president refer to a buffer zone. The disinformation claim seems to be based on conspiratorial interpretation of the Three Seas Initiative. Among other things Duda mentioned it in his interview to the Polish Press Agency a day before inaugural speech saying: "I am thinking of establishing a partnership bloc stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black and Adriatic Seas." The Three Seas Initiative, also known as the Baltic, Adriatic, Black Sea (BABS) Initiative, is a forum of twelve states in the European Union, located in Central and Eastern Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The initiative aims to create a regional dialogue on a variety of questions affecting the member states, primarily transport, energy, and digital. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Poland plans to take over Minsk after extensive subversive activities in Belarus, that Polish authorities and population dream of taking over most of Belarus' territory, and that Russian takeover of Crimea prevented Polish coup d'état in Belarus.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 159
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/07/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Conspiracy theory, Nazi/Fascist
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Accusations against Russia aim to “demonise” it

Russia, unlike Washington and its allies, has not interfered and is not going to interfere in the internal affairs of either the EU or other countries of the world. The accusations of the US and the EU against Russia are absurd and unsubstantiated. Despite suspicions about the “Russian interference” in the US presidential election, the Americans could not find concrete evidence. The sanctions against Moscow imposed because of these accusations still remain in force. The main purpose of these accusations is to “demonise” Russia in the eyes of Europeans.

Disproof

Attempts of election meddling by Russia are already well documented. Investigations were conducted by the authorities of various countries, for example, Parliament's committee (UK). Numerous investigations have provided convincing evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and in elections across Europe and in the US. Thus, in the US, 126 million people were reached on social media by Russia-linked users, 29 million of them have seen the content "directly". See more information here, here and here. Russian meddling in the 2016 election was established by US intelligence agencies before the publication of the Mueller report. Robert Mueller’s investigation decisively concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Specifically, Mueller's report declared that there were "two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election", where the first one is the Internet Research Agency's disinformation campaign and social media operations to disrupt the election, and the second one is the Russian government's hacking operations against the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organisations. The findings of the Mueller investigation have led to US senators' proposals to extend sanctions on Russia to deter further election meddling attempts. For a similar case see here. Other cases about Russia's interference can be consulted here. Ahead of the European elections 2019, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organisations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy, that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the source of these attacks but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here. Furthermore, the report on the implementation of the Action Plan Against Disinformation made clear that "the evidence collected revealed a continued and sustained disinformation activity by Russian sources aiming to suppress turnout and influence voter preferences”. An overview of Russia's methods of electoral interference is here, and case studies are available here and here.

New head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, refuses to fight separatism in the EU

In his new position as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Spain’s interim Foreign Minister Josep Borrell refuses to fight separatism in the EU. In an interview with the Spanish public national radio (RNE), he affirmed that his job “won’t be” to confront pro-independence positions.

Disproof

This is a distortion of Josep Borrell’s statement. In the radio interview he was clearly talking about separatism in Catalonia. In the Sputnik article, it is ambiguously presented as a statement about separatist movement in general, inside the European Union. Mr Borrell also said that confronting pro-independence Catalan movement was not part of his new job, because “it is an internal problem of a member country”. Borrell’s exact words [in Spanish] were: “This is not a role for the High Representative of the European Union in Foreign Affairs,” adding that in such a position, Catalonia “will be a marginal question” for his duties. Affirming that he “refuses” to address this question is a gross manipulation of the truth. See here and here for other examples of disinformation narratives about the European Union and separatism.

Washington uses religious sects for destructive purposes

In recent years, the United States has become particularly active in expanding the activities of its religious sects to other states, thus undermining the religious foundation of other societies. Moreover, those sects have played a major role in the intensification of protest activities in a number of coup d’etat attempts across the globe over the years. One can find a number of curious revelations about the role that religious sects played in assisting the CIA across the EU and the US.

Disproof

No evidence given. Conspiracy theory and recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Western attempts to instigate colour revolutions in EU neighbourhood. This narrative is also consistent with a narrative about "The West" challenging traditional values. Similar cases, where US is accused of attacking traditional values in Europe through "sects" can be found here, here and here.