'India buys less oil from Russia than what Europe does in afternoon': Jaishankar hits back at US

PTI | Published: 12th April 2022 08:25 AM
India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar listens at a news conference during the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department in Washington. (Photo | AP)

WASHINGTON: India's total purchase of oil from Russia in a month is probably less than what Europe does in an afternoon, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.

"I noticed you refer to oil purchases. If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe. We do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon," Jaishankar told a reporter when asked about India's oil purchase from Russia.

Jaishankar was addressing a joint news conference with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with their American counterparts Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, after the conclusion of the 2+2 ministerial.

Jaishankar said India has made a number of statements (on Russia-Ukraine war) which outline its position in the United Nations, in Indian Parliament, and in other forums.

"And briefly, what those positions state is that we are against the conflict. We are for dialogue and diplomacy. We are for urgent cessation of violence, and we are prepared to contribute in whatever way to these objectives," he asserted.

The White House too came in India's defence on the issue of oil purchase noting that its total purchase is less than one and two per cent as against 10 per cent from the United States.

"Did the President get a commitment from Prime Minister Modi not to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy?" White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked during her daily news conference.

"I'll let Prime Minister Modi and the Indians speak to that. Again, it's 1 to 2 per cent at this point in time. They import 10 per cent from the United States. It is not a violation of any sanctions or anything along those lines. It was a constructive, direct conversation. But I will let them speak for themselves," she said.

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During the virtual summit earlier in the day, President Joe Biden conveyed that the United States is here to help India to diversify their means of importing oil.

"The imports from the United States are already significant -- or much bigger than the imports that they get from Russia.

And we, of course -- the President conveyed very clearly that it is not in their interest to increase that.

But beyond that, I would let the Indian leaders speak for themselves," she said.

India, Psaki told reporters, is not violating any sanctions by importing oil.

"It's a decision we made from the United States, but we also recognize different countries have their own calculations," she said.

Psaki also praised Indian efforts in Ukraine.

"What India has done to date is they have condemned the killings of civilians in Bucha. They have supported, they've supported calls for an independent investigation. They've provided over 90 tons of humanitarian relief material to Ukraine and its neighbours to include medicine and other essential relief. Earlier in the conflict, they also used its resources to evacuate almost 150 foreign nationals for 18 different countries," she said.


Jaishankar told reporters that now there is an expanding India-US energy relationship which didn't exist some years ago.

The United States is the second largest LNG supplier to India and the fourth or the fifth largest crude oil supplier.

"A big partner in the renewables side," he said.

Echoing Jaishankar, Blinken said the US energy exports to India now total about USD 11 billion a year.

"Ultimately, the most effective way to satisfy this growth, the needs of the Indian people, the Indian economy, is of course to honour the climate goals, the ambitious climate goals that India has set, including particularly the expansion of renewables," he said.

In fact, there's a longstanding strategic clean energy partnership that is co-led by the Department of Energy, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in India.

That is deepening cooperation on energy efficiency and next generation fuels, he said.

"We have the Quad. We've got a working group on climate that's partnering on green shipping corridors and on green technology," he said.

Blinken said the State Department's Energy Bureau has done a lot of work including collaborative studies with Indian researchers on the most economical decarbonization pathways.

"Our Development Finance Corporation just announced a USD 500 million loan to First Solar, which will produce solar panel modules in Southern India, furthering climate goals, diversifying the solar supply chain," he said.

"So, in all these ways and more, we are working both to deal with the impact of the Russian aggression on energy, but much more broadly with this combination of helping India meet its energy needs while advancing together the vital climate agenda that we share," the Secretary of State said.

US President Joe Biden on Monday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it was not in India's interest to "accelerate or increase" its oil purchase from Russia and was willing to help New Delhi further diversify its energy imports, the White House said.

Biden made the remarks during a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Modi, which was "constructive" and "productive" and their interaction was "not adversarial," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

The virtual meeting between the two leaders came in the midst of some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.

The Modi-Biden virtual meeting lasted for about an hour.

"This was a constructive call. It was a productive call. It is a relationship that is vitally important to the United States and to the President. I would not see it as an adversarial call," Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference soon after the conclusion of the Modi-Biden virtual bilateral.

While the two leaders have met virtually multiple times and also in personal settings, this was for the first time that Biden and Modi had a virtual bilateral.

During the meeting, Biden said that it is not in India's interest to accelerate or increase its oil imports from Russia.

As of now, India imports between one and two per cent of its oil needs from Russia as compared to 10 per cent from the US.

The United States, Psaki said, is willing to help India further diversify its energy resources.

India buying oil and gas from Russia, she insisted, is not in violation of any sanctions.

"But I will let them speak for themselves," she said.

Responding to a question, Psaki said that no decision has been taken on CAATSA sanctions on India, which is going ahead with its decision to purchase the S-400 missile system from Russia.

In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to ramp up its air defence, despite a warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.

The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

Psaki told reporters that Modi and India have spoken forcefully against Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

Tags : Jaishankar Ukraine war Russia sanctions

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