India manages to keep Ukraine issue out of G20 and keeps the Russian oil flowing

The Indian government appears to have omitted all references to Ukraine from the preliminary joint statement to be adopted following the G20 foreign ministers' meeting.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

The volume of oil supplied by Russia to India in April set a new all-time high, and the country’s total imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq were surpassed for the first time, according to a report by Bloomberg. India has been steadfast in its unwillingness to join Western sanctions and to back the United States and its allies in Ukraine. The national security adviser to the Indian prime minister, Ajit Doval, has reportedly told Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, that Delhi does not intend to raise Ukraine at the G20 conference in September, as reported by The Washington Post, citing US intelligence materials. The West could react by putting even more pressure on New Delhi.

Analytical firm Vortex is reporting a new high for Russian oil exports to India. Russian oil imports to India exceeded the combined volume of Saudi and Iraqi cargoes for the first time last month. According to Vortex, Russia’s oil exports to India amounted to 1.7 million barrels daily in March. Iraq supplied 812 thousand barrels daily to India during the same period, while Saudi Arabia supplied 671 thousand.

According to Reuters, India accounts for more than 60 per cent of offshore oil exports of the Russian brand Urals for the second consecutive month. After reaching a record high of 65% in March, this number decreased by roughly 5% in April. China’s share of Urals oil imports in April exceeded 15%, but India remains a significant leader among Urals oil consumers.

Ukraine and G20

The US and its allies are unable to secure political support from the “largest democracy in the world” in Ukraine, having failed to convince India, the G20 chair, to join the Western sanctions ceiling on Russian crude prices.

While key US allies in Europe and East Asia have supported Biden’s campaign in Ukraine and are providing it with more and more armaments while rejecting Russian energy sources, Washington has encountered opposition elsewhere, the Washington Times reports. According to the newspaper, India is among nations reluctant to support one side unequivocally in an era when America is no longer an undisputed superpower, allowing Russia to demonstrate the capacity to resist Western pressure.

The meeting between Ajit Doval, national security adviser to the Prime Minister of India, and Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, took place in Moscow on February 22 of this year, according to classified American intelligence documents obtained by The Washington Post and detailing the meeting.

According to the publication, the Indian visitor reassured his Russian counterpart of Delhi’s willingness to support Moscow on international platforms, particularly by abstaining from voting for Western-proposed UN resolutions on Ukraine.

In addition, according to the documents, Ajit Doval stated that Delhi is working to ensure that the Ukraine conflict is not discussed at the G20 meeting scheduled for September under India’s chairmanship, despite significant pressure being applied to the summit’s organisers. According to Doval, India will not back down from its previous position of principle.

A month later, Nikolai Patrushev travelled to Delhi, where he participated in a meeting of the heads of the Security Councils of the SCO nations and conferred with Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. Following the meeting, official reports indicated that the parties discussed Russian-Indian bilateral cooperation and mutual interest issues.

The Indian government appears to have omitted all references to Ukraine from the preliminary joint statement to be adopted following the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting.

This position of the Indian government did not prevent Emine Dzhaparova, the first deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, from visiting Delhi in April. She delivered to the Indian side an undisclosed letter from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Narendra Modi. Additionally, according to the Ukrainian side, Zelensky requested a telephone conversation with Modi and invited him to Kyiv.

When asked if Delhi had invited Ukrainian officials to the G20 summit, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi responded that the list of invited countries had already been released. In addition to the G20 leaders, the heads of state and administration of Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the UAE are invited to the summit. The name Volodymyr Zelensky does not appear on this roster. The Indian Foreign Ministry representative did not discuss whether Narendra Modi would accept an invitation to visit Kyiv.

However, after a brief hiatus, the American diplomatic department reinstated the question of India’s potential role in the Ukrainian settlement to the information agenda. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu told the Indian news agency PTI in late April that India’s long-standing relationship with Russia affords her a unique opportunity to persuade President of Russia Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine. According to him, the US and India did not always view the events in Ukraine in the same manner, but they did share the conviction that the conflict in this country should end as soon as possible. Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, the US had numerous discussions with India about its relations with Russia, which has strengthened US – India ties, allowed the countries to surmount their differences, and enabled them to find a way to work together, the American diplomat added.


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