India on Thursday said that it has established economic ties with Russia and is focusing on stabilising these relations amid the Ukraine crisis and Western countries’ responses to it.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that New Delhi has been very open about its engagement with Russia. He made the remarks in response to questions on the growing criticism of India by Western powers on its trade relations with Moscow amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offensive in Ukraine.

Bagchi cited the continuous procurement of crude oil from Russia by European countries.

“Energy flows to Europe are continuing, fertilisers purchases have been insulated...political colouring should not be attributed to our actions,” Bagchi said during a media briefing.

Bagchi added that India is also in discussion with Russia to determine a payment mechanism between the two countries amid sanctions against Moscow by Western countries.

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, among other major countries, have announced economic sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine conflict. Some of these measures target Russian state-owned banks and restrict the country’s ability to carry out transactions in major currencies.

Last week, United States Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh had cautioned India against violating sanctions against Russia.

“We are very keen for all countries, especially our allies and partners, not to create mechanisms that prop up the [Russian] rouble, and those that attempt to undermine the dollar-based financial system,” said Singh, the chief architect of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

The US official had warned that Russia would not help India if China made incursions along the Line of Actual Control again.

On Tuesday, United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, too, had said that it was not in India’s best interest to continue investing in Russian military equipment.

Rajnath Singh, Jaishankar to visit Washington

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will go to the United States on a two-day visit next week.

They will lead the Indian delegation at the Fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue to be held on April 11, 2022 in Washington DC. The US delegation will be led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

“The dialogue would enable both sides to undertake a comprehensive review of cross-cutting issues in the India-US bilateral agenda related to foreign policy, defence and security with the objective of providing strategic guidance and vision for further consolidating the relationship,” the foreign ministry said in a release.

It added: “The 2+2 Dialogue will also provide an opportunity to exchange views about important regional and global developments and how we can work together to address issues of common interest and concern.”

Jaishankar will also separately meet Blinken and other senior members of the US administration, the ministry said.