Justifying India’s decision of buying of oil from Russia, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said that every country will try to ensure the best deal possible to cushion high energy prices.
“Oil and gas prices are unreasonably high,” Jaishankar said at an event organised by the Indian diaspora in Bangkok. “Europe is buying much more from the Middle East and other sources who would have supplied to India.”
On March 16, India had said it was exploring options to buy Russian crude oil, as its prices had tumbled to their lowest in view of the Ukraine conflict and the sanctions imposed on Moscow by western countries.
European countries and the United States have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February.
According to Reuters, India imported 8,19,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia in May, an increase from 2,77,000 barrels per day in April and 33,000 barrels per day a year ago. Russia at present is the second biggest supplier of crude oil to India, replacing Saudi Arabia. Iraq continues to be the largest.
During Tuesday’s interaction, Jaishankar said that while the United States and other countries may not appreciate India buying oil from Russia, they have accepted it as New Delhi has not been defensive about its stand.
“We are being very open and honest about our interests,” Jaishankar said. “I have a country with a per capita income of $2,000 [or 1.58 lakhs]. These aren’t the people who can afford higher energy prices. It is my obligation and moral duty to ensure that I get them the best deal that I can.”
He added that countries including the United States know India’s position and will “move on with that”.