United Russia faced down stiff opposition from the Communists in the lower house of parliament on Friday to go ahead with a vote on a maritime border delimitation agreement with Norway.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg last year inked a deal to resolve a 40-year-old dispute over dividing the Barents Sea and part of the Arctic Ocean, paving the way for oil and gas exploration in the lucrative region.
The agreement is now subject to ratification by the legislature of each country.
But the Communist Party says the deal comes at a massive cost to Russia's national interest.
"We consider ratification of the treaty premature," lawmaker Nikolai Kolomeitsev said, adding that it was "harmful" to Russia's economy and political interests.
It will go to a full house vote later on Friday, but as with the New START pact with the United States, the Communist opposition should be insignificant in the face of United Russia's overwhelming majority.
With billions of barrels of oil thought to lie under the Arctic seabed, the region has become a divisive issue for the surrounding countries. Russia is at loggerheads with Canada over a resource-rich underwater mountain range, the Lomonosov Ridge, with each claiming that it is an extension of their country's continental shelf.
MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti)
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