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16 Mar, 2022 04:24

US urges India to think twice before buying Russian oil

The White House press secretary asked New Delhi to consider its place in the “history books” as it mulls Russia’s offer for cheaper crude
US urges India to think twice before buying Russian oil

Washington has urged India not to go through with a plan to purchase discounted Russian crude oil, saying the move would amount to supporting Moscow’s “leadership” amid its military offensive in Ukraine after an official in New Delhi said his country would be “happy” to take the offer.

Asked about recent reports that India may accept a Russian proposal for cheaper crude, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said nations should consider their role in history when dealing with Moscow during its attack on Ukraine, though noted the move would not run afoul of Western economic penalties.

“Our message to any country continues to be, obviously, abide by the sanctions,” she said, adding “I don’t think this would be violating [the sanctions], but think about where you want to stand when the history books are written in this moment in time. And support for the Russian leadership is support for an invasion that obviously is having a devastating impact.”

Psaki’s comments come after two Indian officials told Reuters that New Delhi is currently weighing the Russian offer, with one noting his country is likely to take it. Other reporting also suggests the two nations are currently working out a bilateral trade mechanism involving rupees and rubles. While India currently imports only about 3% of its oil from Russia, skyrocketing prices – up 40% so far this year – could make Moscow’s proposal more attractive.

The press secretary was also asked to speak on reports that Saudi Arabia could soon sell its plentiful oil for Chinese currency, the yuan, and that officials are now in “active talks” for such an arrangement, but declined to comment, saying she was not familiar with those discussions. 

To date, India has declined to join the United States and a long list of Western allies in condemning Russia’s military action in Ukraine, abstaining from a United Nations vote to do so earlier this month. Ukraine has condemned the attack as unprovoked, while Moscow says the “special operation” aims to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country after years of fighting between the Kiev government and separatist forces in the Donbass region.