Davos [Switzerland]: Defending India’s national interest amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday rejected any arguments that India is significantly increasing imports from Russia or contributing to the situation in Ukraine.
This comment comes in the wake of the Ukraine war that has led to crippling sanctions on Russia, thereby creating challenges for its key partners, including India, to do trade with Moscow.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Minister said every country has to look after its national interests. “Our interests or needs are no different from those of the European nations.”
He said India always looked at diversified sources for its petroleum requirements. “In the current situation, when inflation is at an all-time high, causing stress to people over the world, EU and European countries continue to buy larger quantities than India ever thought of buying.”
Over reports of India’s significant surge in imports of petroleum products from Russia, he said, “we’ve never been a very large importer of petroleum products from Russia.” “Any suggestion that India is increasing imports from Russia or contributing to the situation doesn’t stand scrutiny,” he added.
The minister said India is well within the current framework that has put sanctions against Russia.
India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importer, imports 80 per cent of its oil, but only a marginal amount of those purchases come from Russia.
Following Western sanctions on Russian entities in the wake of the Ukraine war, India purchased a few million barrels of Russian crude oil at a discounted rate. This marked a sharp uptick from last year when India imported around 16 million barrels in 2021.
Media reports say a significant increase in Russian oil exports could expose India to great risk as Washington prepares to impose further punitive measures against Moscow.
India, on the previous occasion, has clarified its position on Russian trade, saying that imports and exports done by the country depends on the national interest and welfare of over 1.4 billion Indians.
In a strong response to criticism of India’s purchase of Russian oil, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last month said India’s total purchases of Russian oil for one month were less than what Europe did in one afternoon.
Answering a question about India’s import of Russian oil, Jaishankar said, “If you’re looking at (India’s) energy purchases from Russia, I’d suggest your attention should be on Europe. We buy some energy necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at figures, our purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.” (ANI)