Briefs

What is pro-Kremlin media saying about Trump’s visit to Poland?

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  • Prokremlowskie media o wizycie Trumpa w Polsce  Ten artykuł jest dostępny w języku polskim
On the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to Warsaw—scheduled before the G20 meeting in Hamburg on 6-7 July—pro-Kremlin media outlets are attacking Poland and the United States.

On 6 July, Trump will visit Poland—a trip Polish authorities claim results from long and intense diplomatic efforts on their part. The team of Polish President Andrzej Duda deems it crucial that Trump reassures Central and Eastern Europe about NATO’s security guarantees in the face of Russian threats and contradictory comments by Trump himself. Duda also said he “wants to make good business” with his U.S. counterpart. This likely refers to liquid natural gas (LNG) deliveries to Poland. The first spot delivery from U.S.-based Cheniere Energy arrived in June at Poland’s LNG terminal in Świnoujście. The transaction was not a part of a long-term contract, but occurred at a price attractive to both sides. Talks on a medium-term agreement are ongoing.

Trump will visit Poland under unusual circumstances. The day he arrives, he will host the Three Seas Initiative summit—an initiative by Duda to boost Central and Eastern Europe’s economic integration. Three Seas aims to tighten business ties, encourage small- and medium-sized private enterprises, and increase energy cooperation. Organizers have taken steps to ensure the meeting focuses on common business interests rather than geopolitics.

Yet the pro-Kremlin propaganda machine has tried to diminish Trump’s visit and the Three Seas Initiative using common disinformation techniques.

First, they allege that Trump’s presence in Poland is unimportant. Commentator Tomasz Dudek of the Kremlin-controlled Sputnik network claims Trump is coming simply because Warsaw is on the way to the G20 meet, which also begins 6 July. Trump’s visit could potentially create conditions for increased U.S. cooperation with Poland—especially in defense and energy—and for new, strong condemnation of Russia’s assertiveness in the region.

Dudek also says the leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jarosław Kaczyński, lobbied to meet Trump in Warsaw. Using ridicule—a common disinformation technique—Dudek states on Sputnik that Kaczyński wants to remain a “chieftain” by begging the Americans for a meeting. This is a term reserved for pre-war autocrat Józef Piłsudski, father of Poland’s independence.

More Kremlin disinformation techniques are evident in a comment by professor Stanisław Bieleń of Warsaw University that appeared on pro-Kremlin website Kresy.pl. Bieleń claims the Three Seas Initiative is a continuation of the Intermarium idea from the period between the two world wars. Created by Piłsudski’s camp, it called for the creation of a Central and Eastern European federation in order to offset the influence of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. By using this false parallel, Bieleń is criticizing Polish foreign policy and suggesting that Poles cannot attract other countries in the region, cannot compete with Germany and are not endangered by Russia. (The Three Seas Initiative has no geopolitical dimension and supports European Union integration).

Bieleń also uses the “wolf cries wolf” technique. In his text, titled “On the visit of the emperor,” he portrays Poles as tools of American imperialism who have an uncritical view of U.S. policy. This technique is a clear extrapolation of Russia’s own imperial foreign policy with regard to states along its periphery.

Bieleń calls for a more balanced, “realistic” policy towards Russia, which he says is needed in times of global interdependence and the rise of China. He says the Three Seas Initiative is naïve and unrealistic, and that it will turn Central and Eastern European countries into the role of U.S. servants, which Washington would use to counter to Russia in the region.

In this technique, known as card stacking, facts about rising interdependence and the importance of China in global affairs are mixed with false theses about the need for a pro-Russia policy in Poland. That is how popular ideas are used to support a false Kremlin narrative. It reflects the false dilemma technique, i.e., that Poland must choose between pursuing a pragmatic policy in cooperation with the United States or remain cautious of Russia.