US and Poland launch center to fight Kremlin disinformation about Ukraine war

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The United States and Poland on Monday launched an international operation based in the Polish capital whose mission is to help Ukraine counter Russian disinformation.

James Rubin, a senior U.S. diplomat responsible for countering disinformation, and Tomasz Chłoń, a Polish diplomat tasked with the same mandate, took part in a ceremony inaugurating the new Ukraine Communications Group.

The group, which begins its work Tuesday, will include representatives from 12 countries including Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Italy and several other NATO members as well as Ukraine itself, Rubin said.

They will work in a space provided by Poland's Foreign Ministry and one goal will be to try to detect and debunk Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at weakening support for Ukraine globally.

“The challenge in information warfare is not only to know what the Russians are doing, it’s to also figure out what are the best ways to combat it,” Rubin told a group of reporters invited to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw on Monday to hear more about the project.

Rubin said the idea for the initiative came from the U.S. but that it was eagerly embraced by Poland, whose government is greatly concerned by the damage that disinformation can pose to democracies.

Poland is a member of NATO along the military alliance’s eastern front and it has been a hub for Western weapons sent to Ukraine. It has also been a place of refuge for many Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s full-scale invasion that began in February 2022.

Increasingly, Polish officials say Poland is also a target of sabotage and other disruptive measures by the Russian secret services.

“The group is to confront the deceptive narratives about Russian aggression against Ukraine and to work for an honest representation of reality in the global information environment,” Poland's government said in a statement. “This is a strong signal of our shared determination to continue supporting Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.”

Rubin, who heads the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said Warsaw was a logical location for the center given the many officials who pass through the Polish capital going in and out of Ukraine during the war.

The Global Engagement Center works to highlight disinformation by what it considers hostile states. Rubin said it has already had some success in debunking Russian disinformation campaigns targeting Latin American and Africa before they could have their intended effect.