Myhre, Marthe Handå, Aadne Aasland, and Jørn Holm-Hansen. “‘Crimea will forever be Russian’: dissenting Norwegian media discourses on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” European Politics and Society (2022): 1-24.
The scholarly literature on Russia’s influence in Europe has so far mainly focused on Russia’s influence activities, discussed either as ‘disinformation’ or ‘soft power’. Less attention has been paid to understanding the agency of European audiences receptive to Russian narratives. Through discourse analysis of Norwegian media texts (February 2014 – December 2020) where authors or interviewees accepted or were prone to accept Crimea as part of Russia, this paper investigates into the arguments put forward by these constituencies. Why were commentators, representing various political affiliations, willing to accept Crimea as part of Russia, contrary to Norway’s official position? The paper shows that the Norwegian commentators used many arguments coinciding with the official Russian ones put forward to legitimize the annexation, arguments informed by political realism, pragmatism, sovereignism and in some cases anti-Americanism. However, they also used arguments structured by the socio-political and historical Norwegian context. Constituencies abroad sharing opinions with official Russia may provide Russia with a certain soft power. In this case, the fact that these dissenting discourses in Norway represent fringes of the debate on the annexation rather than a strong united opposition to Norway’s official stand, speaks quite clearly of the limited scope of this soft power.