The PRORUSS Project

Most states engage with target groups abroad to further their national interest. The PRORUSS project provides new knowledge about how Russia pursues its interests vis-à-vis Norway and other European countries. The project identifies and analyses the complex and broad patterns of interaction between different segments of the Russian power apparatus and the heterogeneous audiences and actors abroad that are potentially receptive to Russia’s initiatives.

The project investigates how the need to balance internal factions within the configuration of Russia’s power apparatus combined with the heterogeneity of its potential audiences abroad makes Russia an inconsistent and restricted influencer of European politics and policy-making. As a point of departure, PRORUSS hypothesises that the Russian power apparatus is divided over whether Russia should approach populists or pragmatists as potential European audiences.

The hypothesis is discussed through four empirical case studies that together reflect the above-mentioned configurations and internal rivalries. The two cases on energy and sanctions mainly involve pragmatic considerations whereas the two cases on the Ukraine crisis and moral conservatism primarily relate to populist discourses.

The main focus is on interaction between Russia and actors in Norway, but also other European countries, primarily Germany and Poland.

Data sources are mass media, social media, and semi-structured interviews with high profile populist and pragmatist actors as well as scholars/experts in Russia and Norway. In addition, an experimental survey will be carried out in Norway, and data from surveys conducted in a number of European countries will be used.