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17 Jan, 2024 10:01

Buying Russian oil a ‘pragmatic decision’ – New Delhi

India has ramped up imports of oil and coal despite Western sanctions on Moscow
Buying Russian oil a ‘pragmatic decision’ – New Delhi

New Delhi took a “pragmatic” decision to scale up purchases of Russian oil, despite sweeping sanctions on Moscow by the West, and the results of the decision “are for everyone to see,” India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on Tuesday.

Speaking at a session entitled ‘Energy amid Rivalry’, the minister argued that India has a large population to care for and the country’s government has to ensure millions of people are fed three times a day, news agency PTI reported.

Last year, India overtook China to become the most populous country in the world, surpassing 1.43 billion people according to the UN.

“India’s consumption is growing three times that of the global average,” Puri pointed out, adding that “India is currently in the process of building housing space every year equivalent to one Chicago.” This is why the country has to face global challenges “pragmatically,” he said.

“If India [had] allowed itself to be put into a situation to draw from the same resources after the Ukraine crisis, our fuel prices would have gone up drastically,” Puri noted. In an interview with US news channel CNN in 2022, Puri argued that New Delhi had “no moral conflict” about buying Russian oil and instead has a “moral duty” towards its own consumers.

The minister’s comments came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about progress in trade, economy, and scientific and technical cooperation, as well as energy, transport, and logistics. The leaders are likely to meet in person at some point in 2024.

India has ramped up Russian oil and coal imports in the past two years. In 2023, the country snapped up an average of 1.75 million barrels of Russian crude in a day, according to Kpler data analyzed by The Independent. Meanwhile, the European Union’s imports of refined oil from India also grew to record levels in 2023, meaning consumers likely received unprecedented volumes of oil products that originated from Russia via India last year, the outlet noted. 

Overall, trade turnover between Russia and India has skyrocketed, crossing $50 billion in 2023, and experts predict it could reach $100 billion by the end of the decade.

In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera last November, Indian Foreign Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar described the sanctions on Russia as “levers” that advanced economies have at their disposal “based on mechanisms, powers and tools built over many years.” At the same time, he argued that “many parts of the world” do not agree with the way the top economies use sanctions against particular countries.

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