Poland States Fake News Report Likely Russian Misinformation

Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated on Friday that two false news reports on Poland’s National News Agency (PAP) which stated that the country would mobilize two hundred thousand military personnel on the first of July. Following the article’s release, the PAP denied being the source of the reports before stating that the article was not written or published by members of staff.

Evidence of a Cyberattack

The PAP stated that the news outlet was the target of a cyberattack, allowing the false reports to be published. The outlet further stated that information regarding the attack had already been sent to authorities who are currently working to trace the origin of the attack. The report was originally published at 1400 local time, with the news agency removing the article only eight minutes later. After its removal, the news agency suffered another attack, wherein the same post was published again only to be taken down a second time. Further attacks have not been reported.

Tusk claimed the attack originated from Russian hackers, stating in a post on X that the attack “illustrates Russia’s strategy of destabilization on the eve of European elections.” These elections are set to begin on June 9th in Poland and hold significant importance due to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. Analysts believe that if politicians who are supportive of Russia or wish to cease supplying Ukraine with military equipment manage to gain a majority within the European Parliament, Ukraine’s war effort may falter.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk attending the cabinet swearing-in ceremony on December 13, 2023. (Photo – Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters)

“Everything indicates that we are dealing with a cyberattack directed from the Russian side,” Minister of Digital Affairs Krzysztof Gawkowsk stated. “The goal is disinformation ahead of [the European Parliament] elections and a paralysis of society.”

Continued Attacks

This is the latest attack against European entities that is believed to have been orchestrated by Russian individuals. On May 3rd, the German government, alongside the Czech Republic, the US Department of State, and NATO, accused Russia of initiating cyberattacks against Germany’s defense and aerospace firms alongside the ruling Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). These attacks reportedly targeted “critical infrastructure operators” and a number of entities in several other NATO-aligned nations, including Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden.

In another case of Russian espionage, on Monday a German Bundeswehr officer by the name of Thomas H was convicted of espionage and violating official secrets after supplying military intelligence to Russia, being sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The officer, identified as a captain, claimed that he only provided intelligence to Russia due to his fears that Germany’s support for Ukraine would formally bring the nation into the conflict. The captain’s defense team further stated that he had been radicalized through pro-Russian propaganda on online platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Russia targeted German officials again in late January, when discussions relating to Germany’s role in Ukraine were leaked by Russia following a technical blunder by a member of staff. The leaked discussion, likely intercepted by chance through widespread surveillance, focused on the delivery of weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by the Ukrainian military on a bridge in Crimea. The participant dialed into a Webex meeting (a web conferencing program used by the German government) from Singapore, where it was likely intercepted by Russian intelligence through regular intelligence gathering efforts.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.


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