Washington/New Delhi: The Joe Biden administration has been in touch with Indian leaders to urge New Delhi to reverse the decision of Russian crude oil imports amid the sanctions, the White House has said.
Asked about the US response to reports that India is planning to purchase Russian oil at discounted prices amid the sanctions over the Ukraine war, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the US recognises that many countries have not agreed to ban the import of Russian oil. “Well, we have not – while we made a decision about banning the Russian import of oil, every country has not made that decision, and we recognise that,” Psaki said.
She also acknowledged that countries, including in Europe, have economic reasons to import Russian oil and gas. “And they have different economic reasoning as to why different countries do, including some in Europe,” she said.
She added that the US has been in touch with Indian leaders at various levels, but not yet at the level of President Joe Biden. “We have been in touch, of course, with Indian leaders at a range of levels, not through the President. If that happens, we will, of course, provide that readout and information to all of you.
“But what we would project or convey to any leader around the world is that the world – the rest of the world is watching where you’re going to stand as it relates to this conflict, whether its support for Russia in any form as they are illegally invading Ukraine,” she said.
The remarks come even as India has pointed out that despite the Western sanctions, a number of countries are continuing to import energy from Russia, especially in Europe. Sources in India also pointed out that New Delhi’s legitimate energy transactions should not be politicised. “Countries with oil self-sufficiency or those importing themselves from Russia cannot credibly advocate restrictive trading,” they said.
The sources said that India is highly dependent on oil imports for meeting its energy requirements. Nearly 85 percent of the country’s crude oil requirement (5 million barrels a day) has to be imported. Most of the imports are from West Asia (Iraq 23 percent, Saudi Arabia 18 percent, UAE 11 percent).
I don’t think Russia has been a major supplier; but as regards import of energy from Russia, let me highlight that a number of countries are doing so, especially in EuropeArindam Bagchi, spokesman, Ministry of External Affairs, India
The USA has also now become an important crude oil import source for India (7.3 percent). Imports from the US are expected to increase substantially in the current year, probably by around 11 percent. Its market share will be 8 percent.
The sources also noted that the recent Western sanctions on Russia have carve outs to avoid impact on energy imports from Russia. Russian banks that are the main channels for European Union payments for Russian energy imports have not been excluded from SWIFT. The sources said that India has to keep focusing on competitive energy sources. “We welcome such offers from all producers.”
Indian traders, too, operate in global energy markets to explore best options. On Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said, “India does import most of its oil requirements. So we are always exploring all possibilities in the global energy markets.”
He said that Russia has not been a major supplier of oil to India. “I don’t think Russia has been a major supplier; but as regards import of energy from Russia, let me highlight that a number of countries are doing so, especially in Europe,” he added.
According to reports, Russia is by far Europe’s largest supplier of energy. Russia’s pipeline gas exports to Europe are equivalent to about a third of global liquid natural gas (LNG) trade as of 2021. If Europe were to replace all Russian pipeline gas with LNG, it would need to import about 275 billion cubic metres (BCM) – which represents more than 53 percent of the global LNG trade. Europe would also need to find alternative LNG sources to replace Russian LNG.