US and Poland Launch Center to Counter Russian Disinformation

Both countries also signed an agreement, endorsed by 17 other countries, on fighting information manipulation by foreign actors.
US and Poland Launch Center to Counter Russian Disinformation
The seal of the State Department at the State Department in Washington on May 11, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Ella Kietlinska

The United States and Poland began an international operation on June 10 in the Polish capital aimed at helping Ukraine counter Russian disinformation.

Special Envoy for the U.S. State Department James Rubin, responsible for countering disinformation, and Polish Foreign Minister’s Plenipotentiary Tomasz Chłoń, tasked with the same mandate, established a new Ukraine Communications Group to counter Russian disinformation on Ukraine, according to a statement by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The group, which began work on June 11, includes representatives from 12 countries, including NATO members Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, and the United States, as well as Ukraine, the ministry said.

NATO and the diplomatic service of the European Union also participate in the group, the statement said.

Mr. Chłoń said about a dozen experts will be based at the newly established Warsaw center to monitor and respond to Russian disinformation on Ukraine, according to PolskieRadio, a Polish radio station.
The group members aim to “coordinate messaging, promote accurate reporting of Russia’s full-scale invasion, amplify Ukrainian voices, and expose Kremlin information manipulation,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The State Department accused the Kremlin of using lies and manipulating information to justify its invasion of Ukraine, “obfuscate its war aims,” and undermine solidarity with Ukraine.
Mr. Rubin also stressed the importance of information warfare, as Russian disinformation is supported by China, according to He said China repeats every argument of Russian diplomacy related to the war in Ukraine in the information space, added.

“The challenge in information warfare is not only to know what the Russians are doing, it’s to also figure out what are the best ways to combat it,” Mr. Rubin told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw on June 10.

He said the idea for the initiative came from the United States but that it’s eagerly embraced by Poland, whose government is concerned by the damage that disinformation can pose to democracies.

Increasingly, Polish officials say Poland, which borders Ukraine, is also a target of sabotage and other disruptive measures by the Russian secret services.

Mr. Rubin, who heads the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said Warsaw was a logical location for the Ukraine Communications Group, given the many officials who have passed through the Polish capital to enter and leave Ukraine during the war.

The Global Engagement Center is an agency tasked with exposing and countering foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation aimed at undermining or influencing the United States, its allies, and partner nations, according to the agency’s website.
Poland, a NATO member, has been a hub for Western weapons sent to Ukraine. It also hosts many Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s invasion that began in February 2022.

Agreement on Disinformation

On June 10, Mr. Rubin and Mr. Chłoń also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the United States and Poland in countering information manipulation by foreign countries, according to a statement by the U.S. State Department.
The cooperation will be based on a scheme outlined by the State Department in January and already endorsed by 17 other countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, the statement said.

According to the State Department, countering foreign manipulation of information requires its signatories to adopt a more active approach than the “monitor-and-report” tactic. Countries that endorse it should adopt measures to safeguard freedom of expression, protect “marginalized groups,” ensure transparency in media ownership, and protect elections from foreign influence, the department said.

The countries should also dedicate a government institution to coordinate the fight against disinformation on a national level and participate in international efforts, the department advised.

Civil society, independent media, and academia should be involved in government-led initiatives to combat manipulation of information, the department said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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