Examining the oil and gas industry in the Russian Arctic, this article investigates the gap between corporate social responsibility (CSR) as articulated in corporate offices and implemented at the local level. In Russia, global CSR norms interact with weak formal institutions and the strong informal expectations of state officials and local communities that companies bear responsibility for welfare and infrastructure. As a result, the concept of citizens as ‘stakeholders’ is underdeveloped. Instead, local residents remain subjects within a neo-paternalist system of governance that mimics some elements of the Soviet past. Compensation for damages to indigenous peoples has blurred legal obligations and the voluntary nature of CSR. However, the CSR in the region is constantly developing and formal methods of compensation may assist in clarifying the scope and practice of CSR.