Focus 2023

The Norwegian Intelligence Service’s assessment of current security challenges


  1. The Norwegian Intelligence Service’s annual report Focus is one of three Norwegian threat and risk assessments published during the first quarter of each year. The other two are published by the Norwegian Police Security Service and the Norwegian National Security Service.

    • THE NORWEGIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (NIS) is Norway’s foreign intelligence service. Although subordinate to the Norwegian Chief of Defence, NIS does not concern itself exclusively with military matters. The main tasks of NIS are to warn of external threats to Norway and high-priority Norwegian interests, to support the Norwegian Armed Forces and the defence alliances Norway is part of, and to assist in political decision-making processes by providing information of significance to Norwegian foreign, security and defence policy. In the annual threat assessment Focus, NIS presents its analysis of the current situation and expected developments in geographic and thematic areas considered particularly relevant to Norwegian security and national interests.
    • THE NORWEGIAN POLICE SECURITY SERVICE (PST) is Norway’s domestic security service, subordinate to the Norwegian Minister of Justice and Public Security. PST is responsible for preventing and investigating crimes that threaten national security. It is the task of the service to identify and assess threats relating to intelligence, sabotage, the spreading of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and extremism. The assessments are meant to assist policy formulation and support political decision-making processes. PST’s annual threat assessment is a part of the service’s public outreach, explaining the expected development in the threat environment.
    • THE NORWEGIAN NATIONAL SECURITY AUTHORITY (NSM) is responsible for preventative national security. NSM advises and supervises the safeguarding of information, systems, objects and infrastructure of national significance. NSM also has a national responsibility to detect, alert and coordinate responses to serious ICT attacks. In its report Risiko, NSM assesses the risk environment of national security. In the report, NSM assesses in what way vulnerabilities in Norwegian businesses and functions in society influence the risk environment, with the NIS and PST assessments of the threat environment in mind. The report also recommends measures to reduce risks connected with activity that threatens security
  2. Nils Andreas Stensønes Fokus

    Last year when Focus went to print, the massing of Russian forces and attack plans against Ukraine was extremely worrying. As we finalise this year’s edition, we look back on a year with war in Europe.

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 marks a watershed for Europe. What Russia thought would be an easy takeover of Ukraine has turned into a war of attrition, with terrible losses on both sides. The morale of the Ukrainian people is phenomenal. The sufferings are enormous. For Russia, the so-called ‘special operation’ has been disastrous, and it will mark Russia’s political, military and economic development for many years to come.

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine signifies a permanent rupture with the West. The invasion has clearly shown what kind of threat Russia represents to its neighbours and to NATO. Russia is conventionally weakened, but no less dangerous. Russia will rebuild its military capabilities; the Kremlin has few other instruments of power than its armed forces to pursue its great power ambitions.

    The war in Ukraine also challenges the idea that closer economic interaction reduces the risk of conflict between countries. Interaction also creates vulnerabilities and exposes dependencies on supply chains, which can be used for extortion. By cutting off gas supplies to Europe, Russia seeks to sow division in the West and undermine Western support to Ukraine. The economic repercussions of the war are felt across Europe.

    Much of Focus 2023 is dedicated to Russia and the war in Ukraine. However, there are other developments which also affect Norwegian security. Rivalry between China and the United States is growing, and what happens in China is increasingly important to Norway. Although the terrorist threat against the West is generally lower than it was a few years ago, the tragic attack in Oslo last summer was a reminder of how real the threat from extremists still is.

    Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes
    Director Norwegian Intelligence Service

    Editing concluded on 27 January 2023

A strategic mistake

Chapter 1

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China remains on the offensive

Chapter 2

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International terrorism

Chapter 3

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Conflict areas

Chapter 4

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