Polar Partners or Poles Apart? On discourses of two US think tanks on Russia’s presence in the ‘High North’

Leonhardt Van Efferink

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


The discourses of two US think tanks show how representations of the Arctic and the involved actors could make the difference between an either 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. On the other hand, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3–8
JournalGeographical Journal
Issue number 1
Early online date30 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Arctic
  • Russia
  • United States
  • critical geopolitics
  • discourse analysis
  • think tanks

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