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.
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