by STANISLAW ZARYN
The technological revolution has enabled the spread of social communication. The flow of information in the media has grown so massive that information itself has become a tool of influence on both individual people and whole societies and nations.
Russia knows this well, and it is using this knowledge toward its aggressive goals. NATO members, and in particular the Central and Eastern European countries, have been at the gunpoint of Russian information campaigns for years.
Russia carries out its influence campaigns on a constant basis, including in Central and Eastern Europe. Take, for example, the recently concluded “Anakonda” military exercise in Poland, a regular major training event for the Polish Armed Forces with participation of other NATO members and structures. Russia tried to portray NATO as an aggressor that is seeking confrontation with Russia. The Kremlin threatened the Poles with consequences of developing closer ties with the U.S., suggesting that guarantees offered by NATO are empty and warning that Poland will be in Russian missile launchers’ sights.
The Russian propaganda toolkit for disseminating this message included fake interviews and manipulated articles and photos. With such activities, Russia is trying to intimidate Poles and to paralyze potential decisions on the enhancement of NATO allies' presence in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland has become one of the most important targets of Russia's state-funded information machinery. The Kremlin’s “favorite” topics to exploit are Polish-U.S. ties (in particular the cooperation of both countries in the energy sector), historical Polish policy, modernization of the army, and anti-NATO sentiments. On top of that, Russia attempts to bring Poland into disrepute by exploiting and escalating tensions between our country and our neighbors.
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Stanisław Żaryn is a spokesman for Poland’s minister-special services coordinator.