Blame Medvedev for giving Big Oil to Norway

Then-President Dmitri Medvedev in Murmansk in 2010 attending the signing ceremony of the Barents Sea agreement with Norway. Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk

Dozens of Russian newspapers have over the last few days reported that Dmitri Medvedev is to blame for ceding away Russian shelf holding oil worth €30 billion.


Headlines critical to Medvedev started to appear following last week’s announcement by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate that Norway’s sector of the formerly disputed area in the Barents Sea likely holds 1,9 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

After 40 years of negotiations, Norway and Russia officially announced the delimitation agreement when then-President Dmitri Medvedev visited Oslo in April 2010. The agreement itself was signed in Murmansk in September the same year. 

“Aleksandr II sold Alaska, Dmitry Medvedev gave Norway the part of the Barents Sea with huge reserves of hydrocarbons,” reads the headline in “Ekho Russkogo Severa” – a regional news analytic portal based in Arkhangelsk. National newspapers, radio- and TV stations publish similar headlines.

“Medvedev’s gift gives Norway €30 billion profit” reads the headline in the newspaper Trud, while news-agency Stringer publishes the news with the headline “Medvedev presented the future of Russia to Norway.” RosBusinessConsulting news-portal uses the headline “Russian Federation gave Norway 1,9 billion barrels of hydrocarbons.” Others compare the Barents Sea deal with Khrushchev’s ceding of Crimea to Ukraine.

BarentsObserver has counted 25 headlines negative to Medvedev’s signing of the Barents Sea deal with Norway in different Russian media over the last two days. 

The smear campaign and media’s negative attitude to Medvedev following Norway’s big oil estimates was up for debate in the TV-channel Dozhd Monday evening. Political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky says in the program that the media attacks against Medvedev is purely rhetorical and a part of the ongoing campaign imaging Medvedev as being a betrayer the years he stayed in office. Similar claims against Medvedev have earlier been published regarding his wait-with-action during the South Ossetia conflict in August 2008. 

Pavlovsky dismisses the claims against Medvedev saying “it is impossible to imagine that the former president gave Norway the disputed area without coordination with Vladimir Putin.”

RusEnergy partner Michael Krutikhin says in the same debate that settling the 40-years Barents Sea conflict was justified. He believes both countries will benefit from the delimitation deal, also pointing to the fact that Russia’s Rosneft and Norway’s Statoil jointly will study the possible oil fields in the disputed area.