Russia is using pandemic to discredit Poland - services spokesperson
Russia is using the coronavirus pandemic to wage a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Poland, Stanisław Żaryn, the spokesperson for Poland's special services coordinator, wrote in Monday's Wall Street Journal.
In an article titled The Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign Against Poland, Żaryn supported his claim with two examples of fake news concerning Poland's alleged obstruction of face mask deliveries to Italy.
The first was a March 22 statement by Alessio D’Amato, health service head in Italy's Lazio region, who claimed Polish customs teams had stopped a transport of over 23,000 face masks underway to Italy. Żaryn said D'Amato's words quickly spread through the internet, resulting in accusations against the Polish government for its lack of empathy and European solidarity.
Żaryn added that the Polish Foreign Ministry responded with a staunch denial of D'Amato's accusation as no such occurrence had ever taken place.
The second fake news example quoted by Żaryn was Russian senator Alexei Pushkov's tweet informing that Poland had closed its airspace to a Russian plane with aid for Italy. Żaryn said Pushkov's words had been promptly taken up by online media and regular internauts in Russia, Italy and Ireland, as well as several EU politicians, who accused the Polish government of being so blinded by their anti-Russian ressentiments, that they were striking out at Italy amidst a crisis only in order to discredit Russia.
Żaryn wrote that this too was fake news, as no Russian military aircraft had asked for permission to transit Polish airspace. He added that Pushkov deleted his tweet on the day after he posted it.
According to Żaryn the two examples confirmed Russia's attempts to discredit Poland along the lines of its to-date propaganda campaigns against Warsaw, in which it accused the Polish side of destabilising Europe, provoking diplomatic conflicts, and selfishness.
Żaryn wrote that Russia was using the coronavirus pandemic to further its long-term goal of weakening the EU and NATO, and consequently the sanctions the EU imposed on Moscow after its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. For this aim, and in an attempt to come out of its international isolation, Russia was striving to present itself as a country capable of international leadership and aiding other countries in combating the epidemic, Żaryn wrote.
He added that this showed the Kremlin's readiness to exploit global tragedies for its own ends.