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Hardeep Singh Puri on a visit to Washington DC and Houston characterised it as a private sector transaction caught up in sanctions.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri distanced himself from the issue of US sanctions, announced by the US treasury on eight firms, including an Indian company, Tibalaji Petrochem Pvt Ltd, for dealing in petrochemical products with Iran and violating American sanctions.
The minister, on a visit to Washington DC and Houston, characterised it as a private sector transaction caught up in sanctions.
“There’s a system in place in terms of sanctions. As far as the government of India is concerned, as a government which is anchored in the rule of law, and in international law, I think the government’s position has been absolutely clear,” said Hardeep.
Later during the press briefing, the minister said the issue had not come up in his discussions including with the U.S. presidential envoy for international energy, Amos Hochstein. Emphasizing India’s large size, the minister said “some company somewhere has bought from one person and sold to the other”.
“ They’ve [the U.S.] put it under the scanner and sanctioned it. This is not something that features in discussions between us. At least certainly didn’t feature in my discussions,” he said.
“India will buy oil from wherever it has to for the simple reason that this kind of a discussion cannot be taken to the consuming population of India,” he added.
Since the start of the Ukraine conflict. India has sought to carve a middle path between Moscow and its Western critics and so far largely resisted Western pressure to cut its economic ties with the Kremlin.
The US is holding “deep talks” with India over the latter’s reliance on Russian arms and oil, The official claimed that Indian representatives are starting to look at other markets to meet their demands as they try to become less dependent on Moscow for oil purchases.
Notably, the European Union (EU) on Thursday (local time) adopted its latest package of sanctions against Russia over the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
The EU adopted restrictive measures against an additional 30 individuals and seven entities, read the EU’s statement.
EU sanctions (8th package since the Ukraine war began) aim to force Russia to reduce prices & lose oil revenue. But at imports to the tune of 1.7 million barrels per day, the EU is still the biggest market for Russian crude.
Moreover, the EU is trying to determine the pricing of Russian oil through its insurance firms as Russia is the world’s largest oil exporter.
The European insurers rule commercial oil tankers by providing them with massive insurance. The EU sanctions ll forbid these insurers from providing services to Russian companies selling oil above the price cap.
Moreover, EU’s sanctions package on Russia will impact countries like India. EU is capping what other countries can pay for Russian oil. It bans the sale of oil above that price. This applies only to oil transported by sea. While, the EU members importing Russian oil by pipeline won’t be hurt by these sanctions.
Puri highlighted India is one of the largest oil importer and the demand is expected to rise driven by an increase in India’s per capita consumption of energy which currently stands at one-third of the global average. Puri further stressed that the fuel demand is expected to keep rising as the country’s economy grows.
It is pertinent to note that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also on several platforms had explained India’s decision to continue buying Russian oil. Recently, Jaishankar said PM Modi’s advice on the issue was to do what is best for the nation. “Due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, petrol prices doubled. We had pressure from where to buy the oil but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government were of the view that we have to do what is the best for our nation,” Jaishankar said.
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