Research project

Mitigating Perceived Threats in Russian and Norwegian Public Discourse (THREAT-DEFUSER)

2020 - 2023 (Ongoing)

THREAT-DEFUSER integrates state-of-the-art political science, linguistics, and media studies methods to forge a new multidisciplinary approach to hybrid warfare. The primary objective is long term strategic competence on hybrid warfare in Norwegian and Russian media that empowers citizenry, policy makers, and academics to recognize and mitigate the escalation of radicalization.

Threats today – characterized as hybrid threats – increasingly emerge from diverse, non-violent methods designed to amplify fragmentation and create chaos in a target state. This project will generate high quality research findings on technologically disseminated disinformation and its role in geopolitics and, thus, foster societies resilient to hybrid warfare.

The secondary objectives are to a) address a knowledge gap for three languages (North Saami, Norwegian, Russian) with quantitative linguistic analyses and qualitative methods assessing media practices to triangulate data and produce new knowledge; and b) strengthen the Norwegian research community by building a network dedicated to hybrid warfare analysis stratified to include both early-career (postdoc) and senior scholars.

THREAT-DEFUSER reduces the vulnerabilities exposed by existing socio-political cleavages through state-of-the-art detection and analysis of the quality of threats and their means of dissemination, and enhances civilian resilience with a NewsRadar tool for navigating biases in news media. The example of Anders Behring Breivik highlights the dangers of ideologically extreme Internet “tribes”.

THREAT-DEFUSER uses sophisticated quantitative and qualitative methods to identify unreliable news sources that galvanize polarising ideologies and to alert the public to promote understanding instead of potential radicalization. The project draws on Norway’s strengths in finding peace-oriented solutions to security threats.

THREAT-DEFUSER increases Norwegian capacity to address challenges of disinformation in relation to Norway’s biggest neighbour: Russia. Today’s geopolitical situation is characterized by precarious relations between Russia and a number of NATO states. Norway is obligated both by the politics and narratives emanating from its NATO membership, and by its complex, successful (economic, social, cultural) relationships across the Norwegian-Russian border. THREAT-DEFUSER has a crucial role to play in mitigating misunderstandings and radical positions produced by disinformation in hybrid warfare scenarios.

Project leader is Laura Janda (UiT). Senior Research Fellow Patrick Cullen is responsible for NUPI's part of the project.

Funding program

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway