Nation's interest first; why shouldn't we buy cheap oil from Russia: Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India will continue buying cheap Russian oil as the nation's interest comes first. “I would put my energy security first. If the fuel is available at a discount, why shouldn’t I buy it?” Sitharaman said at the 2022 edition of the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards in Mumbai.
“We have started buying (oil from Russia). We have received quite a number of barrels. I would think about 3-4 days of supply, and this will continue. India’s overall interest is what is kept in mind,” Sitharaman said commenting on the contentious issue of buying oil from Russia amid the ongoing war.
What the finance minister said reaffirms New Delhi's position on continuing trade with its long-standing partner, despite the western sanctions on Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar already defended New Delhi's position and said while less than 1% of India's crude purchases are from Russia, the major buyers of Russian oil and gas are from Europe. “When the oil prices go up, I think it is natural for the countries to go out into the market and look for what are good deals for their people,” Jaishankar said.
According to reports, Russia is willing to sell high-grade oil for up to $35 per barrel to India and wants India to buy 15 million barrels in the first deal.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday met Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said Russia is willing to provide anything India wants to buy. To bypass the western sanctions, Moscow is moving towards conducting trade in national currencies with India and other countries open to trade with Russia, he said.
(With agency inputs)