“When Indian entities go out and try to respond to India’s needs for energy security and procure oil essentially from the market, these are not government-to-government purchases we do,” the Indian foreign secretary said.
The G7, or Group of Seven wealthy nations, has been trying to pressure oil importers like India and China into introducing a price cap on Russian oil. The two Asian giants have refused to follow Western sanctions on Russia over its special military operation in Ukraine.
“India is not a member of G7, just for the record purposes to be clear on that,” Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Thursday in response to a question regarding the West’s proposal to cap the price of Russian oil.
India does not buy oil from the international market under its government-to-government deal, Kwatra added, indicating that the country would continue to purchase oil from Russia, the third largest supplier of the South Asian nation.
After months of pondering, the G7 on September 2 agreed on a proposal to cap the price of Russian oil to curb what they called Moscow’s ability to finance the military operation in Ukraine.
“What form it (price cap coalition) takes, what shape it evolves into something, I think, the countries that floated the idea perhaps can better answer that,” Kwatra underlined.
The foreign secretary’s response came against the backdrop of a US request that said India and China could “take advantage” of the price capping as they would get crude oil at a cheaper rate compared to the international price.
Kwatra also rejected the notion that the government is making a conscious effort to enhance Russian oil intake at a “deeper discount.”
On Thursday, Reuters reported that Indian refiners purchased 855,950 barrels daily from Russia in August, a little less than from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Russian oil shares in India’s total purchases increased to nearly 18 percent in August from less than 0.5 percent in April.
Last week, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed that the courageous “political decision” to import crude oil from Russia was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite the threat of the Western sanctions that were announced in response to Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine.
While addressing the Eastern Economic Forum on September 7, PM Modi made it clear that he would continue prioritizing national interests when it comes to energy security.
“There is immense potential for cooperation in the field of energy. Russia can become an important partner for the Indian steel industry through the supply of coking coal,” Modi said.
While speaking on the sidelines of the Gastech Conference in Milan in July, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said India would continue to buy oil from Russia as the government has a “moral duty” to its 1.4 billion citizens.
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has repeatedly lambasted the West for accusing India of “funding war” by increasing Russian oil imports.
“Look, I don’t want to sound argumentative. But then tell me, buying Russian gas is not funding the war? Is it only Indian money and Russian oil coming to India which funds, not gas coming to EU, which funds? Let’s be a little even-handed,” Jaishankar said in June.