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1 Nov, 2022 14:37

No ‘moral conflict’ over buying Russian oil – India

Top energy official says New Delhi’s priority is its own people
No ‘moral conflict’ over buying Russian oil – India

India sees no “moral conflict” in importing Russian oil despite the West’s attempts to curb Moscow’s revenues, its Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, has explained. The US and EU have tried to restrict Russia's energy trade as part of sanctions that were imposed on Moscow in the wake of its military operation in Ukraine, which was launched in February.

During an interview on CNN on Monday, anchor Becky Anderson asked Puri whether India has “any qualms about continuing to buy so much” Russian oil.

The minister corrected Anderson by saying that oil from Russia made up only 0.2% of its oil imports in the financial year of 2022, which ended on March 31. 

“We still buy only a quarter of what Europe buys in one afternoon. So let’s be very clear about what the perspective is,” Puri stated, adding that the government has “a moral duty” to provide energy to India’s large population, regardless of the type of fuel or the source. 

Anderson asked if New Delhi sees the purchases from Russia as a moral conflict, to which Puri said, “Absolutely none. There is no moral conflict.” 

“We don’t buy from X or Y. We buy whatever is available,” he said, adding that private companies, rather than the government, are responsible for purchasing oil. 

When asked what India would do if the EU urged it to stop oil trade with Moscow, he said: “I don’t address hypothetical questions. If the EU wants to come up with something, they will talk to us. We will examine [the proposal].” The minister also said that the cabinet led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not “feel any pressure” on the matter from abroad.

Puri’s comments come after the US and EU clarified that the planned price cap on Russian crude oil would take effect on December 5, 2022 and a cap on refined petroleum products would take effect on February 5, 2023. Apart from trying to reduce Moscow’s revenues, the measure will “help address inflation and keep energy costs stable,” the European Commission said in a statement.