By Lalit K Jha
WASHINGTON: The White House has reiterated that it is not in India’s interest to “accelerate or increase” imports of Russian energy and other commodities, while offering to work with New Delhi to help it reduce its reliance on imports from Moscow.
Responding to questions on the visit of top Indian-American US advisor Daleep Singh to New Delhi last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference on Monday that he explained both the mechanisms of the American sanctions and reiterated that any country or entity should be abiding by those.
At the same time Psaki said that reporting energy payments by India are not sanctioned and New Delhi’s imports of Russian energy represent only one to two per cent of its total energy imports.
Singh, the US Deputy National Security Adviser, who played a key role in designing American sanctions against Russia, was in New Delhi last week in the backdrop of increasing disquiet among Western powers over India not criticising Russia over its attack on Ukraine.
In New Delhi, he had also cautioned that there will be consequences for countries actively attempting to “circumvent or backfill” American sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine and said it would not like to see a “rapid” acceleration in India’s import of energy and other commodities from Russia.
During her briefing on Monday, Psaki said that “certainly our expectation and our public and private message is will continue to be that every country should abide by the sanctions that we have announced and that we are implementing around the world.”
She said that “energy payments are not sanctioned; that’s a decision made by each individual country. And we’ve been very clear that each country is going to make their own choices, even as we have made the decision and other countries have made the decision to ban energy imports.”
“What Daleep did make clear to his counterparts during this visit was that we don’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities,” Psaki said.
“Right now, just to give everybody the full scope of it, India’s imports of Russian energy represent only 1 to 2 per cent of their total energy imports,” she added.
So Singh explained both the “mechanisms of our sanctions and reiterated that any country or entity should be abiding by those, we also made clear that we’d be happy to be a partner in reducing their reliance or even their small percentage of of reliance on that,” the White House Press Secretary said.
India buys less than one per cent of its total oil imports from Russia. But Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have given way to talk of a rupee trade for the oil and gas purchases.
Source: Press Trust of India