Justifying India’s decision to import Russian crude oil amid the Ukraine war, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said it is his moral duty 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 are not the people who can afford the high energy prices. It’s my obligation… my moral duty to make sure I can get them the best deal.”
He was speaking during an interaction with the Indian community in Bangkok, Thailand.
Pointing out that India’s traditional supplier lot has shrunk, Jaishankar said: “At the moment, oil and gas prices are unreasonably high. A lot of India’s traditional suppliers are also turning them to Europe because Europe is buying or buying less oil and gas from Russia. So, Europe is also buying a lot from the Middle East and from other sources that supply India.”
“So, this is the situation today where every country will try to ensure the best deal to reduce high energy prices and India is doing the same thing,” he said.
The minister said that other countries, including the United States, accept India’s position in this regard. “And, once you put it very openly and honestly, people accept it. They may not always appreciate it, but as long as you’ve set your interests straight, I understand. It is in that the world accepts it as a kind of reality,” he said.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after 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 stand during a press meeting in Washington, the external affairs minister had said that India’s monthly oil purchases from Russia are probably less than those in Europe noon. He had said that India has issued several statements calling for dialogue and diplomacy to deal with the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“We are in favour of an immediate cessation of violence and we stand ready to contribute in any way we can for these purposes,” he said.