India focused on stabilising economic ties with Russia following sanctions
An inter-ministerial group headed by the finance ministry is looking at the impact of the sanctions and stabilising economic relations with Russia, and discussions are on regarding payment mechanisms that can be used in the current circumstances.
India on Thursday said it is currently focused on stabilising its established economic relations with Russia against the backdrop of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, and that no “political colouring” should be attributed to its actions.
New Delhi and Moscow are engaged in discussions on “what kind of payment mechanisms can work in the current circumstances”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing.
He was responding to questions about US officials expressing disappointment at India’s continued economic engagement with Russia and warning of consequences if these moves violate US and Western sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
Bagchi made it clear that India and Russia are talking about stabilising, and not increasing, their economic relations “because it is in our interest to ensure that some of this economic activity continues”.
“We have established economic relations with Russia. Our focus is on stabilising these established economic relations in the current circumstances. We have been very open about it,” he said. “Given the current circumstances, post the developments in Ukraine, there is an effort by both sides to ensure that this economic relationship remains stable.”
An inter-ministerial group headed by the finance ministry is looking at the impact of the sanctions and stabilising economic relations with Russia, and discussions are on regarding payment mechanisms that can be used in the current circumstances, he added.
There has been growing unease in Western capitals over India not condemning the Russian invasion and the government’s decision to take up Moscow’s offer to supply oil and other commodities at discounted rates. India has purchased millions of barrels of Russian crude since last month but officials have pointed out that Russia accounts for less than 1% of all of the country’s energy purchases.
Bagchi said external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s statement on the issue in Lok Sabha on Wednesday had addressed the issue of “consequences or disappointment or perspectives of other countries”.
“Let me just emphasise that energy flows to Europe are continuing, fertiliser purchases have been insulated, there are such other examples also. So...political colouring should not be attributed to our actions,” he said.
Last week, US deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh had, during a visit to New Delhi, urged India not to accelerate imports of Russian energy and other commodities and said there would be consequences for countries that attempt to circumvent the sanctions.
Asked about Singh’s comments, Bagchi said Singh had briefed the Indian side on the “context, objectives and efficacy of US sanctions on Russia”. Singh, who is also the US G20 sherpa, had broad-ranging discussions on contemporary economic issues, such as working with India in the G20, infrastructure development, climate finance, critical technologies, and food security, he said.