President Vladimir Putin awarded the Order of Honor to Matthias Warnig, a former East German Stasi agent who now serves as managing director of the Nord Stream gas pipeline project and was recently named board chairman of RusAl, Interfax reported.
Warnig is also a board member at Rosneft and chairman of the board at Transneft. Western media have identified Warnig as a friend of Putin from the time the latter served as an intelligence officer in Germany.
ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson and Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni were awarded Orders of Friendship, which is one level lower than the Order of Honor.
Both firms are major investors in Russia's energy sector and have partnerships with state companies.
Foreign citizens are awarded the Order of Honor for "exceptional merit in developing bilateral relations with the Russian Federation."
The businessmen were among 12 people honored in a Kremlin decree issued Sept. 30.