India likely purchases less oil and gas from Russia in a month than what Europe does in an afternoon, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.
He made the statement while replying to a question at a joint press briefing that he addressed along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken and its Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
This was after the fourth “2+2 Ministerial Dialogue” between India and the United States.
“If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe...” Jaishankar said. “I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.”
The external affairs minister’s statement comes in the context of Western countries calling on other countries to cut ties with Russia, citing the war in Ukraine. On Monday, United States President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that buying more Russian oil was not India’s interest, Reuters reported. Biden also reportedly said that India increasing its energy dependence on Russia would hamper the United States’ response to the Ukraine crisis.
Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have imposed sanctions on Moscow because of its offensive against Ukraine.
Some of these measures target Russian state-owned banks and restrict the country’s ability to carry out transactions in major currencies, making it difficult for Moscow to trade with other countries.
Meanwhile, at a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on Tuesday, India and the United States “reviewed mutual efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine”, according to a joint statement. The representatives of the two countries called for an immediate stop to hostilities and “unequivocally condemned” civilian deaths.
This was the second time within a fortnight that Jaishankar spoke about European countries buying Russian oil and gas, in the context of India’s trade ties with Russia.
On March 31, the minister had alleged that there appeared to be a campaign against India for buying Russian oil at lower prices. He made the remarks at an event organised by think tank Indian Council for World Affairs, during which he participated in a discussion with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Jaishankar had said that European countries continued to be the biggest buyers of Russian oil and gas, in spite of statements that they would cut down on them.
“...I am pretty sure if we wait two or three months and actually look at who are the big buyers of Russian gas and oil, I suspect the list won’t be very different from what it used to be,” the external affairs minister said. “And I suspect we won’t be at the top 10 of that list.”
‘India not violating sanctions’, says White House spokesperson
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said that India imports only 1% to 2% of its energy requirements from Russia, as compared to about 10% from the United States, PTI reported.
“It is not a violation of any sanctions or anything along those lines,” she said. “But I will let them speak for themselves.”
In March, the United States’ Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh warned that countries that attempt to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia will face consequences.
“No one should kid themselves – Russia is going to be the junior partner in this relationship with China,” Singh had said during a visit to India. “And the more leverage that China gains over Russia, the less favourable that is for India. I don’t think anyone would believe that if China once again breached the Line of Actual Control, Russia would come running in India’s defence.”