The US says there is no “red line” for India’s oil imports from Russia

The United States will not put a “red line” on India’s energy imports from Russia but does not want to see “quick acceleration” in purchases, a senior US official said Thursday during a visit to New Delhi.

Lured by steep rebates following Western sanctions against Russian companies, India has bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude since the country invaded Ukraine in late February. This compares to around 16 million barrels for all of last year, data compiled by Reuters shows.

“Friends don’t draw red lines,” Daleep Singh, the US assistant national security adviser for international economics, told reporters, but added that his partners in Europe and Asia have been urged to reduce their reliance on “an unreliable energy supplier.”

Singh was speaking ahead of the arrival of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for a two-day trip to the Indian capital.

Russia has long been India’s largest supplier of arms, despite growing purchases from the United States over the past decade. Defense analysts say Russian supplies are cheaper and vital for India as it faces a superior Chinese military.

Singh said the United States stands ready to help India diversify its energy and defense supplies.

“We stand ready to help India diversify its energy resources, similar to what has been done with defense resources for a period of time. But there is currently no ban on energy imports from Russia,” he said.

“What we do not want to see is a rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia in terms of energy or other exports that are currently banned by us or other aspects of the international sanctions regime.”

He also said the United States would not like to see its allies help revive the ruble, which plummeted immediately after the war began but has recovered in recent days.

“We don’t want to see mechanisms aimed at propping up the ruble or undermining the dollar-based financial system or circumventing our financial sanctions,” he said.

Reuters has reported that India and Russia are trying to work out a rupee-ruble payment mechanism to keep trade between the countries going.

India and China count Russia among friendly nations and neither have condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. While India has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war, China has sided with Moscow on some issues.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after meeting Lavrov on Wednesday that Moscow and Beijing are “more determined” to develop bilateral ties and intensify cooperation. They also condemned Western sanctions against Russia.

Singh said the growing bonhomie between Russia and China has implications for India.

“Russia will be the junior partner in this relationship with China. And the more influence China gains over Russia, the less favorable it is for India,” he said.

He said Russia is not expected to come to India’s aid in the event of future border escalations between India and China. The US says there is no “red line” for India’s oil imports from Russia

Jaclyn Diaz

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