A Polish pro-Kremlin website claims Russia can occupy Poland overnight
Event: On 27 July 2016, the Polish-language web portal Dziennik Polityczny published an article, “Atlantic Council: Russia could take over Poland overnight.” The article discusses the Atlantic Council’s 19 July report—Arming for Deterrence—which analyzes Russia’s military threat to Poland and offers proposals for strengthening Poland’s security.
False fact or narrative: According to the anonymous author of the Dziennik Polityczny article, “Experts from the American analytical center Atlantic Council have come to the conclusion that Russia could take over Poland overnight.”
Facts on the ground: The Atlantic Council report does not contain any statement suggesting that Russia could occupy all of Poland overnight. It asserts only that up until now, Russia has not been willing to confront NATO. However, the report admits that this could change—not because of Moscow’s strength, but because of its unpredictability. The apparent source of the untruths in Dziennik Polityczny about the influential think tank’s report is a story in the Polish-language edition of Russian state-owned web portal Sputnik. But that source is concealed from the reader.
Techniques: Half-truths and spreading false facts. The Atlantic Council’s report does exist and it does assess Russia’s military threat to Poland. However, its content is not reflected in the Dziennik Polityczny article. Rather, that website and Sputnik have turned the unfavourable reality—that experts consider Russia an unpredictable country—into a supposed demonstration of Russia’s strength, by claiming that Russia may defeat Poland overnight.
Audiences: Polish public opinion.
Analysis: This story’s apparent purpose is to convince Poles of both the weakness of their own army and that of Poland’s NATO allies. It presents Russia as powerful, determined and ready to launch a crushing attack at any moment. he anonymous authors try to give the story more credibility by falsely ascribing that claim to a major US think tank.