Poland hit by ‘wave of fake news’ ahead of NATO drills: report

Poland was hit by a wave of fake news, including a phony interview with a US commander, days before a major NATO exercise kicks off in the country, an American military newspaper has reported, citing a Polish security official.

Stanisław Żaryn

Stanisław ŻarynPAP/Marcin Obara

The disinformation campaign coincided with the start of the next phase of the Defender Europe-20 military exercise hosted by Poland, according to Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s security services chief.

Hackers used “cyberattack tools” to post fake content on various news websites, including prominent Polish media groups, Żaryn said, as cited by the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

Żaryn, who also serves as director of the National Security Department at the Polish Prime Minister’s Office, blamed Moscow for the “barrage of fake news stories,” the American military newspaper reported on its stripes.com website.

Among the bogus reports was a fabricated interview with US Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, which was published on a website notorious for spreading disinformation and was then picked up by other sites, stripes.com said, citing Polish officials.

The flurry of fake news comes as Poland prepares to host the Agile Spirit exercise in June, the first large-scale exercise with US troops since the coronavirus pandemic forced most major training events to be cancelled, stripes.com reported.

It added that the upcoming drills are part of the Defender Europe-20 effort, which was to be the largest military exercise on the continent in more than 25 years but was significantly scaled down when the coronavirus hit.

‚Defender Europe 20 Plus’

According to a report by Poland’s PAP news agency, some 6,000 Polish and American troops are scheduled to exercise together in Poland from June 5 to 19.

The „Defender Europe 20 Plus” drills will see around 100 tanks and more than 230 combat vehicles deployed to the Drawsko Pomorskie training site in the northwest of the country, the Polish state news agency reported this week.

According to the defence ministry in Warsaw, the upcoming drills aim to strengthen the security of Poland and other countries along the eastern flank of NATO.

‚Attempt to break down alliance cohesion’

The stripes.com website quoted Poland’s Żaryn as saying that the latest disinformation campaign targeting Poland ahead of the NATO exercise was an “attempt to break down alliance cohesion.”

The attack also aimed to “destroy the image” of the United States and weaken its engagement in Europe, and raise doubts about the reliability of countries on NATO’s eastern flank, Żaryn said, according to Stars and Stripes.

He added that Russia was suspected of being behind the attacks, which bore the hallmarks of previous disinformation campaigns led by the Kremlin.

“The military cooperation between the US and Poland is constantly targeted by Russian activities,” Żaryn also said, as quoted by stripes.com.

(gs)

Source: stripes.com

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