Spiraling toward a New Cold War in the North? The Effect of Mutual and Multifaceted Securitization

Academic article
Security policy  Russia and Eurasia  The Nordic countries
Written by

Julie Wilhelmsen

Research Professor, Head of the Research group on Russia, Asia and International Trade



Building on a discourse-theoretical reading of securitization theory, this article theorizes and examines
how two political entities can become locked in a negative spiral of identification that may lead to a violent
confrontation. Through mutual and multifaceted securitization, each party increasingly construes
the other as a threat to itself. When this representation spreads beyond the military domain to other
dimensions (trade, culture, diplomacy), the other party is projected as “different” and “dangerous” at
every encounter: positive mutual recognition is gradually blocked out. Military means then become
the logical, legitimate way of relating: contact and collaboration in other issue-areas are precluded.
Drawing on official statements 2014–2018, this article investigates how Norwegian–Russian relations
shifted from being a collaborative partnership to one of enmity in the High North. The emerging and
mutual pattern of representing the other as a threat across issue-areas since 2014 has become an “autonomous”
driver of conflict—regardless of whether either party might originally have had offensive
designs on the other.