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October 1, 2023

India says Russia oil deals advantageous as Yellen visits Delhi

After meeting with his Russian counterpart for the sixth time this year, India’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that his country will keep purchasing Russian oil because it helps the nation and that trade relations between the two nations are growing.

The first time Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has been to Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. His trip coincides with Janet Yellen’s visit to New Delhi this week to meet with Indian authorities and maybe discuss regulating the price of Russian oil.

As its refiners purchase discounted cargoes passed over by Western purchasers, India has surpassed China as Russia’s biggest oil consumer. Russia now accounts for an unprecedented 23% of India’s oil imports, up from just 2% prior to the invasion.

Senior officials in charge of agriculture, oil and gas, ports and shipping, finance, chemicals and fertiliser, and trade were with Jaishankar, which, according to him, demonstrated the significance of relations with Russia. Given Russia’s issues with the dollar, both parties are eager to increase their rupee-rouble trading.

“Russia has been a steady and time-tested partner. Any objective evaluation of our relationship over many decades would confirm that it has actually served both our countries very, very well,” Jaishankar said in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

When questioned about a plan by the Group of Seven to limit the price of Russian oil, Jaishankar responded that India had to protect its own interests as the third-largest consumer of oil and gas in the world, where income levels were low.

“And in that respect, quite honestly, we have seen that the India-Russia relationship has worked to our advantage,” he said. “So, if it works to my advantage, I would like to keep that going.”

Following ExxonMobil’s departure, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp applied to the new Russian operator of the Sakhalin-1 to keep a stake in the Far Eastern oil and gas project.

India has advocated for peace and diplomacy rather than condemning Moscow’s incursion, and Jaishankar reaffirmed that India will “back any action that de-risks the world economy and stabilises global order.”

Since decades, Russia has been India’s top supplier of military hardware and ranks as the country’s fourth-largest market for pharmaceuticals. To balance the bilateral trade, which is currently skewed in favour of Russia, Jaishankar suggested that India increase exports to that country.

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