Foreign Minister S Jaishankar defends oil import from Russia, says 'EU imported six times more than India'
During an interview, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, "Europe has been able to reduce its import while remaining comfortable. If you care about your population at a (per capita income) 60,000 euros, I have a population of USD 2,000. I also require energy and cannot afford to pay high oil prices."
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar defended India's decision to import crude oil from Russia, despite growing concern among Western powers, claiming that Europe has imported six times more fossil fuel energy from Russia than India since February 2022.
The EAM, who arrived from Cyprus on the second leg of his two-nation tour, also said that if European political leaders want to mitigate the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict on their people, they should extend the same privilege to other political leaders.
During an interview with Austria's national public broadcaster ORF, Jaishankar, on Monday, said, "Europe has been able to reduce its import while remaining comfortable. If at a (per capita income) 60,000 euros, you care about your population, I have a population of USD 2,000. I also require energy and cannot afford to pay high oil prices."
Jaishankar also highlighted that since February 2022, Europe had imported six times the amount of energy from Russia that India has.
While responding to a question, Jaishankar asked, "Basically, if it was a matter of principle, why didn't Europe cut off energy from Moscow on February 25?
India's need for Russian oil has grown since it began trading at a discount as the West avoided it to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Indian government has vehemently defended its oil trade with Russia, claiming that it has to source oil wherever it is cheapest.
According to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa, Russia remained India's top oil supplier in November for the second time in a row, surpassing traditional sellers Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Russia supplied 9,09,403 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to India in November, accounting for only 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. It now accounts for more than a fifth of India's oil supply.
Following Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Western countries are gradually reducing their energy purchases from Russia.
According to Jaishankar, "Europe is also moving into the Middle East, diverting production from the region and raising prices. European policy is putting pressure on global oil markets."
Jaishankar reiterated India's stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying it was on the side of peace and that New Delhi's efforts have been to return to dialogue and diplomacy as differences could not be resolved through violence.
The minister further explained, "There are complicated situations in international relations. The countries involved should resolve their differences through peace and diplomacy."
"At the end of the day, we make foreign policy decisions based on what we believe are our long-term interests and what is good for the world," he continued.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, which started on February 25, 2022, has significantly impacted the global energy system.
It has disrupted supply and demand patterns, cracked long-standing trading relationships, and raised energy prices for many consumers and businesses globally, hurting many countries' households, industries, and entire economies.
(With inputs from PTI)