US and Poland Establish Center to Counter Russian Disinformation on Ukraine War

The Warsaw-based facility will detect “deceptive narratives” on the Ukraine conflict, the US State Department has said 

The United States and Poland have established an international group based in Warsaw to counter what they call Russian disinformation about the Ukraine conflict, the US State Department has announced.

The Ukraine Communications Group (UCG) is designed to identify “deceptive narratives” spread by Russia targeting Kiev and “amplify Ukrainian voices,” the State Department said in a statement on Monday.

James Rubin, the head of the department’s Global Engagement Center, which tracks disinformation, said the idea of establishing the UCG originated in Washington and was enthusiastically received by Warsaw, which takes the “threat of disinformation similarly seriously.”

“The challenge in information warfare is not only to understand what the Russians are doing, but also to determine the best ways to combat it,” Rubin told reporters.

The group will be located at a Polish Foreign Ministry site in Warsaw and will include representatives from 12 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, and several other NATO member states, as well as Ukraine itself, the US diplomat announced.

Tomasz Chlon, the Polish Foreign Ministry’s plenipotentiary for counteracting international disinformation, told Polskie Radio that around a dozen experts permanently stationed there will “coordinate communication priorities and the production of audiovisual materials” to combat Russian news.

“These actions will be directed in particular to Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Western Balkans, where the air is thick with Russian disinformation,” he added.

Establishing the UCG in Warsaw was a logical decision due to the number of international officials who pass through Poland while traveling to and from Ukraine, according to Rubin.

Since the Ukraine conflict escalated into open hostilities in February 2022, the West has barred multiple Russia-associated media outlets from reaching audiences in the US and the EU. The European Commission has announced sanctions on RT and Sputnik, suspending their TV broadcasting licenses and blocking both websites for readers across the EU.

In its latest round of restrictions in May, the EU blacklisted four more media outlets over allegations that they had spread Russian propaganda.

Moscow has accused Brussels of duplicity and attacking freedom of speech with its sanctions. The campaign to undermine the work of Russian news organizations predates the Ukraine conflict and is aimed at preventing European citizens from hearing opinions that their governments deem undesirable, Russian officials have claimed.