The use of hybrid warfare in the 2014 conflict in Ukraine and the leaking of hacked documents in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election campaign have sparked a renewed debate about Russia’s use of propaganda, disinformation and influence operations. Media have always and everywhere been used for political purposes. However, the mentioned examples hint at a specific Russian take on the use of social and traditional media when it comes to exercising political control and influence. And as the Internet becomes increasingly important in our daily lives, social media are likely to become an even more relevant domain for political conflict.

At this year’s Russia Conference, we want to take the discussion of these topics one step further. We will discuss the important, but frequently overlooked, domestic dimension of Russian authorities’ use of propaganda and disinformation. To what extent are such operations guided by domestic concerns? In addition, we will of course examine the international dimension: What does the use of – and the discussion about – propaganda, disinformation and influence operations tell us about Russian foreign policy and the relations between Russia and the West?

In each panel, we aim to bring in different in perspectives to tease out the real from the hype and thereby contribute to a more nuanced discussion about the strategic rationale and potential effects.



Registration and coffee


Welcome address by Senior Research Fellow and Head of the research group for Russia, Eurasia and the Arctic at NUPI, Helge Blakkisrud


Panel 1: Internet, Media and Politics in Russia

Chair: Dr. Mette Skak, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark

Prof. Daniel Treisman, UCLA, USA: Russia and the Informational Autocracy

Prof. Iliya Kiriya, HSE Moscow, Russia: Internet and New Media as Alternative Media in Russia

Andrej Soldatov and Irina Borogan, indeprendent journalists, Russia: The Kremlin's Wars on the Internet


Coffee break


Panel 2: Russia, the West and the Competition over Narratives in International Affairs

Chair: Dr Lars Rowe, FNI

Prof. Sarah Oates, University of Maryland, USA: Russian Propaganda and American Media: A Parasitic Relationship

Dr. Julie Wilhelmsen, NUPI, Norway: The Dynamics of Russian-Western Interaction – the Case of Norway

Kadri Liik, European Council of Foreign Relations, London, UK: What Does Russia Want?




Panel 3: Competition over Narratives: Case Studies

Chair: Prof. Cristina Archetti, UiO, Norway

Dr. Joanna Szostek, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK: Russia, Ukraine and Strategic Narratives

Dr. Jakub Godzimirski, NUPI, Norway: Russian Strategic Communication and Political Ambitions in Europe

Hanna Smith, Hybrid Coe, Finland: Hybrid Warfare