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US stops pressuring India on its oil purchases from Russia — expert

Russia was India's largest oil supplier by 2022, accounting for more than 25% of Indian crude oil imports

NEW DELHI, March 7. /TASS/. The United States stopped pressuring India on the topic of purchases of Russian oil, realizing that this could undermine its cooperation with New Delhi on defense and within the Quad, Indian expert in international relations, former Indian ambassador to Russia Kanwal Sibal told TASS on Tuesday.

"India has been buying discounted oil from Russia right from the start, despite open pressure from the US government, think tanks and the media. Our Foreign Minister has spelt out several times publicly, even during his visits to the US, the logic and necessity of our oil purchases from Russia as a huge energy importing country that must meet the needs of our people and is answerable to them. Our Oil Minister has said also on US soil that India will exercise its sovereign decision in this regard," the expert believes.

"Lately, the discourse from Washington has changed and India is no longer being asked to stop buying oil from Russia. In a recent visit to India, the US Treasury Secretary actually said that India can buy discounted oil from Russia as much as it wants so long as western tankers and insurance companies are not used. Today, Russia has become the largest supplier of oil to India," he added.

The expert believes, "The West has concluded that they cannot any longer put pressure on India on this issue. They probably don't want this issue to undermine other more important aspects of their engagement with India: the Indo-Pacific, the Quad, defense ties and investment opportunities. Other than this, they want oil prices not to shoot up. If India does not buy Russian oil, it will have to go back to its traditional suppliers, which are now being tapped by Europe. There will be more competition and this will put an upward pressure on prices."

Russia was India's largest oil supplier by 2022, accounting for more than 25% of Indian crude oil imports. According to India’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, over 11 months of last year, deliveries of Russian crude oil increased 9.5-fold and reached $19.7 bln, deliveries oil products increased 5-fold ($2.5 bln), and deliveries of coal quadrupled ($3.8 bln).