The discourses of two US think tanks show how representations of the Artic could make the difference between either an inclusionary or exclusionary Arctic regime. The Brookings Institution stresses that Russia's foreign policy focuses on international law and diplomacy; and recommends multilateral initiatives to address regional tensions. However, the Heritage Foundation emphasises Russia's willingness to use military force and strong language when dealing with Arctic matters, recommends ‘a strong response’ to Russia's policies and stresses the importance of ‘Western’ alliances. The comparison of discourses on the Arctic of two US think tanks lends support to the idea that geographers should play a prominent role in the debate on a regional governance framework. A constructive way to do so is by highlighting and explaining the region's complexity and uncertainty, in order to limit the (re)construction of degeographicalised representations of the Arctic in policy circles.