India open to buying crude oil from Russia on discount | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India open to buying crude oil from Russia on discount

By, New Delhi
Mar 18, 2022 09:46 AM IST

Moscow has reportedly offered crude oil and other commodities at a discount to New Delhi, at a time when the Russian economy has been hit hard by sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

India on Thursday did not rule out buying crude oil at discounted rates from Russia, with external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi pointing out that several European countries were still importing energy from Russia.

A general view shows a local oil refinery during sunset in Omsk, Russia March 16, 2022. (REUTERS/Alexey Malgavko)
A general view shows a local oil refinery during sunset in Omsk, Russia March 16, 2022. (REUTERS/Alexey Malgavko)

Moscow has reportedly offered crude oil and other commodities at a discount to New Delhi, at a time when the Russian economy has been hit hard by sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As the West seeks to isolate Putin, US officials have acknowledged India’s dependence on Russia for military hardware but said they would like to see New Delhi distancing itself from Moscow.

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Asked about reports that India had taken up the Russian offer of crude at discounted rates, Bagchi did not deny the development but said: “India does import most of its oil requirements... So we are always exploring all possibilities in global energy markets because of this situation that we face of importing our oil requirements.”

Noting that Russia has not been a major supplier of oil for India, Bagchi said: “On imports of energy from Russia – let me just highlight that a number of countries are doing so, especially in Europe, and for the moment I’ll leave it at that.”

“We are a major oil importer and we are looking at all options at all points, we need the energy.”

State-run Indian Oil Corporation has reportedly bought three million barrels of crude oil that Russia offered at a steep discount on prevailing global rates. European powers such as Germany have faced criticism for continuing to procure energy from Russia while putting pressure on other countries to reduce oil purchases and economic ties with Russia.

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Bagchi also said India had evolved a rupee-rouble mechanism with the erstwhile Soviet Union and this was continued with Russia. He said the Indian side will wait for details of unilateral sanctions imposed by various countries over the Ukraine crisis to “examine their impact on our economic exchanges with Russia”.

India is expected to face growing pressure from Western partners in the coming days over its position on the Ukraine crisis, including its stance at the UN on not criticising the Russian invasion while calling for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss is expected to raise the Ukraine crisis and press India to take a firm position on Russia when she visits New Delhi during March 30-31 for talks with her counterpart S Jaishankar, people familiar with the matter said.

The Ukraine crisis is also expected to figure at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in-person annual summit with Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in New Delhi on March 19, and his virtual summit with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on March 21. Both Australia and Japan, India’s partners in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, have imposed severe sanctions on Russia.

Bagchi said both summits will be opportunities to review bilateral relations and discuss regional and global issues.

The Ukraine crisis is also expected to top the agenda when US undersecretary of state for political affairs Victoria Nuland and assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs Donald Lu visit India next week.

While acknowledging that India’s oil imports from Russia won’t fall within the US sanctions regime, the White House has said it is time for India to choose which side of history it wants to be on. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington’s message to all countries is that they should abide by the sanctions and “think about where you want to stand when the history books are written”.

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