India sought to defend its purchases of Russian oil and gas Monday amid a US push for nations around the world to curb acquisitions, saying Europe’s consumption far surpasses India’s.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi’s top diplomat, lashed out at criticism over India’s purchases of Russian energy, saying they are necessary to secure the nation’s energy security.
“If you’re looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe,” he said during a meeting of the Indian and American top diplomats and defense secretaries in Washington. “Looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.”
The defense comes as the Biden administration pushes countries worldwide to restrict purchases of Russian oil and gas in a bid to tighten the economic screws on Moscow over its war on Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged Washington’s concerns on Russian energy sales, saying the Biden administration is “looking to allies and partners not to increase their purchases of Russian energy.”
“We’re encouraging countries not to purchase additional energy supplies from Russia,” he said, while acknowledging that “every country is differently situated, has different needs, requirements.”
The 2+2 ministerial meeting comes on the heels of a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Biden said at the top of the meeting that the US and India are in “close consultations” about Russia’s assault on its eastern European neighbor, as well as how best to manage its “destabilizing effects.”
New Delhi has refrained from condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine, but Modi said the apparent mass killings of civilians that have come to light in the city of Bucha are “very worrying.”
India has so far resisted pressure from the US to tamp down purchases of Russian oil and gas, two of the main pillars of Moscow’s economy, and abstained last week from a US-led UN General Assembly vote that suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council.
Washington is also considering sanctions on India for its purchase of the advanced Russian S-400 air defense system.
Blinken maintained that no decision has yet been reached on granting India a potential sanctions waiver, but said “we continue to urge all countries to avoid major new transactions for Russian weapons systems, particularly in light of what Russia is doing to Ukraine.”
“We have not yet made a determination regarding potential sanctions or potential waivers,” he added. “There is, of course, a long history and a long relationship between India and Russia, including when it comes to military equipment. That relationship took hold many years ago at a time when, as I said, we were not able to be a partner to India.”
“We are now both able and willing to be such a partner, to be a security partner of choice for India. That’s one of the areas that we discussed in some detail today,” he added.