US bid to block entry of Russian vessels at Mumbai port rejected

Updated on Jul 15, 2022 04:33 AM IST

The American consulate in Mumbai reportedly wrote to the Mumbai Port Authority last month, saying that Russian vessels should not be allowed to call at the port because of American sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

India on Thursday rejected an apparent effort by the US to block the entry of Russian vessels at the Mumbai port and said the US consulate in the financial hub should not have directly communicated with local authorities on this issue. (REUTERS)
India on Thursday rejected an apparent effort by the US to block the entry of Russian vessels at the Mumbai port and said the US consulate in the financial hub should not have directly communicated with local authorities on this issue. (REUTERS)
By, New Delhi

India on Thursday said an effort by the US to block the entry of Russian vessels at the Mumbai port should not have been directly communicated to local authorities, and the request should have been sent through the diplomatic route.

The US consulate in Mumbai reportedly wrote to the Mumbai Port Authority last month, saying that Russian vessels should not be allowed to call at the port because of American sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

“The matter has come to our attention. The relevant embassy has been advised that the appropriate channel for any such diplomatic communication is through the ministry of external affairs and the embassy in New Delhi,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular news briefing.

He was responding to a question about the US consulate contacting the Mumbai Port Authority on the entry of Russian merchant vessels. Bagchi also reiterated India’s position on trade with Russia against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis. “On the larger issue of economic and trade linkages with Russia, I think our position has been articulated quite clearly on several occasions in the past, and I have no specific update to share for the moment,” he said.

Over the past few months, India has brushed aside calls from the US and its Western partners not to accelerate the purchase of discounted oil and other commodities from Russia. US officials have said the sanctions on Russia are meant to hamper President Vladimir Putin’s ability to finance the war in Ukraine.

India has refrained from publicly criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue. The Indian leadership has insisted that all energy purchases, including the acquisition of Russian crude, will be based on protecting national security interests. India’s oil imports from Russia surged to around 950,000 barrels a day in June, accounting for almost a fifth of overall imports by world’s third-largest oil consumer, Reuters reported.

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