Poland at risk of Russian hybrid activities: internal security head

“The Russian Federation’s aggressive policy... remains the biggest challenge… As an important member of the EU and a state with a strategic position among East-Central European countries, Poland is particularly at risk of Russian hybrid activities,” the head of Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) Piotr Pogonowski told Poland’s public broadcaster TVP.

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Mr Pogonowski said that “The Russian Federation’s aggressive policy aimed at destabilisation of states crucial to the matters of Crimea and Russia’s intention to recreate its USSR-era sphere of influence remains the biggest challenge [to the ABW],” adding that “a glaring example of the Russian Federation’s expansionist policy is the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine – threats that departed President Lech Kaczyński pointed to already years ago.”

“Let us not forget, however, about the attempts to meddle in the internal affairs of the Balkan states [namely a failed coup in Montenegro] and former USSR republics [increasing pressure on Belarussian authorities and the attempt to pull Moldova into the Russian sphere of influence],” continued Mr Pogonowski.

Asked how much of a threat Russia is to Poland’s energy policy, the ABW head said that “as an important member of the EU and a state with a strategic position among East-Central European countries, Poland is particularly at risk of Russian hybrid activities, namely propaganda and disinformation. These activities are carried out with a wide array of tools that include secret operatives trying to influence scientific milieus, media, social and political organisations – put simply – all that forms the core of democracy.”

Mr Pogonowski went on to say that “the goal of these activities is to create a false picture of the political and social situation [in Poland] and to sow dissent among our citizens. Public sentiments are polarised so that people are convinced that society consists of two antagonistic groups that cannot be reconciled by dialogue and are doomed to confrontation. That is what Kremlin’s subtle strategy is aimed at: the shattering of [the Polish] society’s unity and the setting of society against itself.”

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