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Research Project

Russia's strategic approaches to Europe: Addressing the puzzle through policy relevant research (StratApproach)

2018 - 2020 (Ongoing)

How is Russia’s strategic approach to Europe shaped by its reading of Western intentions and actions and what implications does this approach has for Norway?

In an increasingly unpredictable world, a changing Russia continues to be a critical actor in nearly all key international processes, including North Korea, Iran, Syria, and – most importantly from a Norwegian perspective – in European and Norwegian security. Ever since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 relations between Europe and Russia are arguably tenser than at any point since the end of cold war. How is this situation perceived on both sides?

We try to find answers to this within this project, and we are in particularly interested in the escalatory effects that may emerge between parties that have set perceptions about the other’s hostile intent and simultaneously perceive their own intentions as transparent and benign. This situation calls for new thinking, intellectual rigour, and policy relevant research. The project is designed to create significant synergies by working with, building on, and drawing insights from relevant academic research projects at NUPI. It will anchor and develop the study of Russia as a factor and actor in Norway’s strategic environment and generate timely and relevant knowledge for national, regional and trans-Atlantic policymaking communities. Norwegian research on Russian strategic outlook is compartmentalized and lacks the broader, cross-cutting overlook this project will offer. It will boost Norwegian research on the strategic aspects of Russian policymaking and situate relations between Norway and Russia in a broader strategic context. We believe that the project will be able to provide solid, research-based input to national and international policymaking communities – and present a Norwegian reading of situation. Norway has long experience in dealing with Russia-related risks without compromising its national security. This knowledge could be utilized as an important national contribution to the process of formulating a ‘smarter’ common policy platform on Russia in NATO.

The annual output of this will be three co-financed academic articles/chapters, three policy briefs with a complementary ‘brown bag’ seminar in the Ministry of Defence, as well as one roundtable at NUPI to facilitate the synergies between academic research and policy that the project envisages. The project will enable researchers on Russia and European security to integrate their academic activity with a consistent policy relevant outlook, and will produce a set of inquiries that speak directly to the Ministry of Defence’s Russia-related specific criteria every year throughout the project period. The inquiries for 2018 will be:

  1. A data -driven exploration of Russia’s evolving understanding of the main security actors in Europe. See "corporaexplorer: An R package for dynamic exploration of text collections".
  2. A study of how recent Norwegian defence policy moves impact on the formulation of Russian policies toward Norway. See "Norway and Russia in the Arctic: New Cold War Contamination?", and "How the New Cold War travelled North (Part I and Part II)"
  3. A study of horizontal spill overs within NATO and their potential impact on Russo-Norwegian relations. See "The Risks of Being an Ally".

For NUPI, this project will build up under our strategic, long-term commitment to research on Russian foreign and security policy.

Funding program

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence's program for financing research on security and defence policy