1st April was a day of contrast for Indian diplomacy as representatives from two economic warring sides, Russia and the United Kingdom, were in New Delhi to vie for Indian support.
Russia is ready to sell Ural oil to India at a significant discount – for $ 35 per barrel, as per media. Russia wants India to buy 15 million barrels of oil agreed for this year, sources familiar with the issue told Bloomberg. Moscow has also offered payments in rupees and rubles using Russia’s SPFS financial transaction system, an analogue of the international SWIFT system, making trade more attractive to India.
Delhi will continue to buy crude oil from Russia as people need cheaper oil after soaring world prices, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was quoted as saying. Russia’s offer to sell oil at reduced prices came one day after Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with British counterpart Elizabeth Truss. “India welcomes competitive proposals to meet growing domestic energy demand. Economic considerations drive our oil purchases from Russia,” Jaishankar said in response to U.S. and U.K. calls for Indian authorities not to increase oil imports from Russia. At the meeting, Jaishankar stressed that European countries bought 15 per cent more Russian oil in March than in February, noting that oil from Russia accounted for less than 1 per cent of India’s hydrocarbon imports.
The U.S. and British officials are putting pressure on India to avoid undermining the dollar-based financial system and the sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. describes India’s stance on Russian sanctions as “deeply disappointing.”
“Now is the time to stand on the right side of history, stand with the United States and dozens of other countries, defending freedom, democracy and sovereignty together with the Ukrainian people, and not finance, feed and help their war,” said Gina Raimondo the U.S. Commerce Secretary in Washington on Wednesday.
In the past, even the U.S. and European nations have been blamed for similar attacks against the rest of the world.
Daleep Singh, US Deputy National Security Adviser, Biden’s pointsman for sanctions, said Russia wouldn’t come to the aid of India if China strikes on LAC again.
“And the more leverage that China gains over Russia, the less favourable that is for India,” he claimed, without elaborating the reason behind Chinese leverage against Russia. Ironically, the U.S. considers China a more significant threat than Russia and pushes Russia into the Chinese sphere.
India has been less blunt to the Western nations on their selective outrage for Ukraine. The Middle East has already questioned the Western approach. “The humanitarian suffering we see in Ukraine … has existed in many countries in the region for years,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani comparing the war in Ukraine to that in Syria, where the Russians support the regime of Bashar al-Assad by military means.
Lavrov praised India’s neutral position on Ukraine “as a whole as a set of facts and not one-sided.” Russia will supply India with all the goods it wants to buy, Lavrov was quoted as saying by TASS.
India wants to expand its imports of Russian oil and has already bought several million barrels since the end of February. India has taken a neutral position on hostilities in Ukraine, did not support Western sanctions and abstained from Ukraine-related UN Security Council resolutions. The world’s most populous democracy has so far expressed no criticism of Russia, despite pressure from the United States and Europe. India has long had close relations with Moscow, and much of its military equipment comes from Russia. However, the country also maintains good relations with Washington, which is why it prefers to avoid taking a stand on the topic of the war in Ukraine.