HELSINKI, Finland—Tucked away in an unassuming office building near Helsinki’s waterfront, a group of around 10 academics and government officials—most of them Finns—spend long days and nights tracking disinformation and influence operations emanating from neighboring Russia. They make up a newly formed research and strategy unit tasked with lifting the veil on a range of security threats that blend conventional and unconventional tactics.
The European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, known as the Hybrid CoE, was founded last year in Helsinki by a dozen member states of the European Union and NATO. It defines hybrid threats as the fusion of irregular and regular tools—everything from tweets to tanks—that both state and nonstate actors, like terrorist groups, are using to try to destabilize countries and institutions. Its mission is to study those threats and advise participating countries, as well as other members of the EU and NATO, on how best to counter them.
Listen to Mackenzie Weinger discuss this article on WPR’s Trend Lines Podcast. Her audio starts at 16:34.