‘My friend, S Jaishankar…’: Lavrov lauds EAM over Russian oil imports statement | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘My friend, S Jaishankar…’: Sergey Lavrov lauds EAM over Russian oil imports statement

Mar 05, 2024 07:57 AM IST

Recalling the words of S Jaishankar, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said “India has always been a friend" of Moscow.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has lauded external affairs minister S Jaishankar for navigating bilateral ties between New Delhi and Moscow amid the Ukraine war and recalled how his Indian counterpart responded when Western pundits demanded to know why India still aligned with his country.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in November 2022. (AP File Photo)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in November 2022. (AP File Photo)

Sergey Lavrov was addressing the World Youth Forum in the Russian city of Sochi where he was asked about India’s oil purchases from Russia on Sunday.

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Recalling the words of S Jaishankar, who advised Europeans to look at themselves before lecturing others, the Russian foreign minister said “India has always been a friend" of Moscow.

“My friend, foreign minister Subramanyam Jaishankar, was once at the UN, giving a speech. He was asked why they started buying so much oil from Russia. He advised them to mind their own business and reminded them at the same time how much oil the West had started buying and continued to buy oil from the Russian Federation. This is national dignity,” Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency.

During the discussion session, Sergey Lavrov also highlighted the historical partnership between India and Russia, particularly Moscow’s support for New Delhi during the Cold War period when the West withheld advanced weaponry.

On India-Russia defence ties

Explaining what qualities Russians and Indians share, Sergey Lavrov said, “In those years, when the West did not even think of transferring modern weapons to India, the Soviet Union, and later Russia, not only did so, but also set up joint production of high-tech missiles (including the) BrahMos. That is why we remember (our) friendship, we never forget ourselves and we see that the Indian people have the same qualities.”

In January last year, S Jaishankar has defended India's move to import crude oil from Russia notwithstanding the growing disquiet over it by Western powers, saying that Europe has imported six times the fossil fuel energy from Russia than India has done since February 2022.

In May, Jaishankar pushed back against a suggestion by a top European Union (EU) official for a crackdown on Russian oil resold by Indian firms as refined fuels, saying such exports don’t violate EU regulations. EU foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell had said Brussels was aware Indian refiners were buying large volumes of Russian crude oil and processing it into fuels for sale in Europe. For the first time since India significantly ramped up purchases of discounted Russian oil, Borrell also said the EU should act to stop this practice.

Asked about Borrell’s remarks by a reporter, Jaishankar replied, “I really don’t see the basis for your question because my understanding of the [European] Council regulations is that if Russian crude is substantially transformed in a third country, then it’s not treated as Russian any more.”

He added, “I would urge you to look at Council regulation 833/2014.”

India is currently one of the biggest buyers of Russian crude. The sale of refined fuels produced from the crude to European states is legal under EU embargoes but has been criticised by those backing harsher sanctions against Russia.

India's oil purchase from Russia

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, India has steadily increased its purchases of discounted Russian oil. Indian imports of Russian oil hit a record high in October 2022, with Russia becoming India’s top oil supplier in terms of barrels per day, news agency PTI reported, quoting data from energy tracker Vortexa.

India and Russia have close relations and New Delhi has not supported Western sanctions on Moscow, even though it has repeatedly urged an “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine. India, also a major market for Russian-made weapons, has so far abstained from UN resolutions critical of Moscow’s war.

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