India had partnered with Russia at a time when the United States was not in a position to take up that role, the Washington’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Blinken made the statement while testifying before the US’ Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. During the hearing, Republican Senator William Hagherty asked him about his views on the India-United States relationship.

“...And Russia, for India, was out of necessity a partner of choice when we were not in a position to be a partner,” Blinken said, adding that the relationship between Delhi and Moscow went back decades.

However, he said that many countries were now having a relook at some of their partners and interests, “particularly when it comes to their relationship with Russia”.

Blinken said that the United States government was now investing in efforts to partner with India and added that now there was a “growing strategic convergence” between the two countries.

“Of course, China is a big part of that,” he said.

In recent months, key figures in the United States administration has expressed concern about India’s position on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. India has abstained on several resolutions in the United Nations on the matters and has said it is exploring options to buy Russian crude oil.

On March 21, Biden had said that India’s response to the Russian attack on Ukraine has been “somewhat shaky”. US Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh, during his visit to India on March 31, had said that countries attempting to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia will face consequences.

He had clarified that India’s current import of Russian energy does not violate any sanctions but warned that any increase was at cross purposes with US’ strategic objectives.

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, among other major countries, have announced sanctions against Russian government officials, banks and oligarchs after the country attacked Ukraine.