The United States on Tuesday said that it is in India’s own interest to reduce its dependence on Russia.
“Russia is far from reliable in any realm,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said. “...It is not only in the interest of the region, of the collective interests that India decrease its dependence on Russia over time, but it’s also in India’s own bilateral interest, given what we have seen from Russia.”
Price was responding to a question on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Russia and the trade of oil between Moscow and New Delhi.
Jaishankar is on a two-day visit to Moscow to hold bilateral talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov. This is his first visit to the country since the war in Ukraine began.
On Tuesday, Jaishankar had said that India will continue to buy oil and gas from the country given the state of global inflation.
Since the war began, Western countries have tried to curb Moscow’s revenues from oil exports to limit financial flows supporting the war. However, India has continued to import crude oil from Russia.
New Delhi has also increased its oil imports from Moscow significantly after the conflict started. In October, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that India’s crude oil shipments from Russia have risen to 12% from about 2% in February.
On Tuesday, Price acknowledged India has a high demand for energy for which it continues to seek oil from Russia.
“That is not something that runs afoul of the sanctions that have been imposed [on Russia],” he said.
He also added that it is incumbent on countries around the world to do what they can to reduce economic ties with Russia.
“That’s something that’s in the collective interest, but it’s also in the bilateral interest of countries around the world to end and certainly over the course of time to wean their dependence on Russian energy,” Price added.
On the war in Ukraine, Price said that it is important for Russia to hear messages from countries like India, which emphasises diplomacy and dialogue.
“It’s especially important that the Russians hear that message from countries like India that are neighbours, that have economic, diplomatic, social, and political might...,” he said.
Russia had launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Kremlin had described its actions as a “special operation” to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. However, Kyiv and several Western nations have said that this is a baseless pretext for a war of choice by Russian President Vladimir Putin.