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    NATO expert: Russia wants to drive a wedge between Poland and the rest of Europe

    Russian propaganda is aimed at dividing Europe, according to Jānis Sārts, director at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga. According to him, the Kremlin is portraying Poland as a country that unnecessarily provides support to Ukraine, because if it stopped, the problems of inflation, hunger or energy prices would disappear.

    Russia is not currently spreading typical disinformation, but practising war propaganda, the expert noted. “Looking from the Russian perspective, an alternative reality has been created as part of war propaganda. And seeking disinformation in an alternative reality is counterproductive because everything is disinformation,” the director at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence said.

     

    “We all see the main Russian narrative: Nazi Ukraine trying to attack Russia, Poland and the US are among the countries fueling the conflict, and Russia is a victim and a country with a special role in history, so it is entitled to special rights,” the expert continues.

     

    At present, one can speak of Russian disinformation by referring to the Kremlin’s attempts to spread certain narratives in information spaces outside Russia, he points out.

     

    “When it comes to Poland, as in the case of the Baltic states, Russia is trying to separate it from Europe, saying that they are Russophobes, bad people who are causing all this hysteria, who are not helping to find a solution on Ukraine,” NATO StratCom COE director says.

     

    Russian propaganda and disinformation are also trying to portray badly Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Poland, he adds. “I think this was the first campaign launched during the war by Russia in Europe. It is ongoing, but with less intensity,” Sārts stresses.

     

    The motive behind Russia’s next campaign against the West is that all the inflation and energy problems are allegedly caused by the war in Ukraine and withholding support for Kyiv will make these problems disappear, he adds.

     

    For the past few months, Russia has also been promoting the narrative that global famine is caused by the West and Ukraine and that Europe will suffer from massive refugee flows. In this case, Moscow is again hinting at the solution of withholding support for Ukraine, Sārts points out.

     

    To spread disinformation on social media, Russia is using troll factories and online bots, which Moscow is increasingly emphasizing, the expert points out. It is also creating websites designed to look like independent, non-Russian-related sites.

     

    The Kremlin is also using agents of influence. “Interestingly, in the first months (after the invasion began) the agents didn’t speak out, because that would have made them very noticeable. However, they have been heard more and more for some time now,” he stresses.

     

    According to him, “the worse Russia gets on the battlefield, it will use harsher rhetoric, including the nuclear one.”

     

    “It will try to scare so as not to look helpless,” Sārts predicts.

     

    “If there is a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive, we can expect even tighter control of the information space in Russia. There will be growing concern in the Kremlin about how this will be perceived by the public,” the expert believes. Russia will also continue to exploit the topic of world hunger and energy prices.

     

    “The dynamics in the information space very much depends on what happens on the battlefield,” he concludes.

     

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