India was never defensive about stand on Russian oil: Jaishankar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India was never defensive about stand on Russian oil: Jaishankar

By, New Delhi
Aug 18, 2022 05:40 AM IST

“At this time, oil prices are unreasonably high, so are gas prices. A lot of traditional suppliers to Asia are also diverting them (supplies) to Europe because Europe...can buy less oil and gas from Russia,” he said in response to a question from the audience.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday justified India’s decision to buy discounted Russian oil by saying it is aimed at overcoming shortages and cushioning the people from high energy prices, even as his Ukrainian counterpart criticised India’s move.

Union minister S Jaishankar during a press conference in Bangkok, on Wednesday. (AP)
Union minister S Jaishankar during a press conference in Bangkok, on Wednesday. (AP)

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Jaishankar reiterated India’s stand on its decision to take up Russia’s offer of discounted energy during an interaction with the Indian diaspora in Bangkok on Monday, and pointed out that New Delhi is focused on getting the best possible deal for its citizens at a time when India’s traditional energy suppliers are diverting supplies to Europe.

“At this time, oil prices are unreasonably high, so are gas prices. A lot of traditional suppliers to Asia are also diverting them (supplies) to Europe because Europe...can buy less oil and gas from Russia,” he said in response to a question from the audience.

“So Europe is actually buying much more from the Middle East and other sources [that] would have supplied India. It is a situation today where every country will try naturally to get the best deal possible for its citizens, will try to cushion the impact of these high energy prices and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.

Jaisankhar has consistently defended the Indian government’s decision to take up discounted Russian crude and other commodities and he had also pointed out earlier that European countries which had criticised New Delhi’s move were themselves still buying Russian energy.

He noted there is greater understanding of India’s position among key partners such as the US. “We are not doing it in a defensive way. We have been very open and honest about our interest. I have a country which has a per capita income of $2,000, these are not people who can afford higher energy prices. It is my obligation, my moral duty to actually get them the best deal that I can from the world,” he said.

Once India’s position is laid out “openly and honestly”, others will accept it, he said. “They may not always appreciate it but once it is there and you’re not trying to be too clever about it, you actually have laid out your interests in a very direct manner, my sense is that the world accepts that as a kind of reality...,” he added.

Hours after Jaishankar made the remarks, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told an online briefing for South Asian reporters that his country expected “stronger practical support from India”.

As two democracies, Ukraine and India “have to stand by each other”, he said. “We know that India is buying Russian crude oil. We are not surprised by that...When India purchases Russian crude oil with high discounts from Russia, they have to understand that these discounts are paid with Ukrainian blood, with Ukrainians killed, tortured, raped, with destroyed cities and towns,” he said.

“Everything else is the decision that governments make to make their own economic benefits,” he added.

Kuleba also recalled his role in the evacuation of some 22,000 Indian nationals, most of them students, from Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. “We were always very friendly to India...I remember the first days of the war, when one of the tasks I had to handle was the evacuation of foreign students from Ukraine and there were plenty of Indian students who always considered Ukraine as their second home and whom we always considered as part of our society,” he said.

“We are very open to build relations with India under the circumstances but I will not be hiding that we expected stronger practical support from India to Ukraine under the current circumstances,” he added.

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