Justifying India’s decision to import Russian crude oil amidst the Ukraine war, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Wednesday that his moral duty is to ensure the best deal for Indians, most of whom cannot afford high energy prices.
“We have been very honest about our interests. I have a country with a per capita income of $2,000. These aren’t people who can afford higher energy prices. It is my obligation… my moral duty to ensure that I get them the best deal I can,” he said.
He was speaking during an interaction with the Indian community in Bangkok, Thailand.
Explaining that India’s traditional supplier lot has shrunk, Jaishankar said: “At this time, oil and gas prices are unreasonably high. A lot of traditional suppliers to India are also diverting them to Europe because Europe is buying or can buy less oil and gas from Russia. So, Europe is also buying much more from the Middle East and from other sources that would have supplied to India.”
“So, it is a situation today where every country will try to ensure the best deal it gets to cushion high energy prices and India is doing exactly the same thing,” he said.
The minister added other countries, including the United States, accept India’s position in this regard. “And, once you lay it out very openly and honestly, people accept it. They may not always appreciate it, but as long as you have laid out your interests in a direct manner, my sense is that the world accepts that as a kind of reality,” he added.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following which several Russian industries faced sanctions from the West, India has come under criticism for continuing to buy oil from Moscow.
In April, when asked about India’s stance during a press meeting in Washington, the foreign minister had said that India’s monthly purchase of oil from Russia is probably less than what Europe buys in an afternoon. He had added that India has issued multiple statements calling for dialogue and diplomacy while dealing with the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“We are for urgent cessation of violence, and we are prepared to contribute in whatever way to these objectives,” he had said.