According to the Indian foreign minister, the government will give maximum priority to the energy needs of the country and therefore continue with its policy of purchasing oil from Russia.
This statement comes at a time when Western governments are trying to implement a price cap on Russian seaborne oil to reduce Moscow’s capacity to generate funds to finance its war in Ukraine.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the remarks following talks with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock. At the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and Russia’s war in Ukraine. According to Jaishankar, it is not appropriate for European countries to prioritize their energy needs while “asking India to do something else.”
“Europe will make the choices it will make. It is their right,” he told reporters.
So far, India has not committed to the $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil imposed by the Group of Seven major industrialized countries and the European Union, which is set to take effect on Monday. Western governments are attempting to limit fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow’s budget, military, and invasion of Ukraine, while also avoiding a possible sharp price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly removed from the global market.
Jaishankar did not mention the price cap directly, but he did say that the European Union imports more fossil fuel from Russia than India. Indian officials have defended their purchase of Russian oil, claiming that the lower price benefits India.
India has steadily increased its purchases of discounted Russian oil since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to data from energy tracker Vortexa, Indian imports of Russian oil reached a record high in October, with Russia becoming India’s top oil supplier in terms of barrels per day.
India and Russia have close ties, and New Delhi has not supported Western sanctions against Moscow, despite repeatedly calling for a “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine. India, a major market for Russian-made weapons, has so far remained silent on United Nations resolutions condemning Moscow’s war.
Jaishankar and Baerbock, who is in India for two days, also discussed trade diversification, the global consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine, and cooperation in the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
In addition, the two countries signed a migration and mobility partnership, which will make it easier for people to study, conduct research, and work in each other’s countries.
Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe, with over 1,700 German companies operating in the country. The majority of German investments in India are in transportation, electrical equipment, construction, trading, and automobiles.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)