Days after U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh made a trip to New Delhi to warn India that the purchase of Russian oil at discounted prices would come at the risk of U.S. sanctions, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the Biden administration’s message.
Ms. Psaki said the private and public messaging had been that “every country should abide by the sanctions that we [ the U.S.] have announced and that we’re implementing around the world”. Her comment was in response to a question on whether the administration was ramping up pressure on India and China to discourage them from increasing purchases of Russian energy.
“I would note that... energy payments are not sanctioned. That’s a decision made by each individual country, and we’ve been very clear that each country is going to make their own choices even as we have made the decision and other countries have made the decision to ban energy imports,” Ms. Psaki said, before she reiterated Mr. Singh’s message.
“What Daleep did make clear to his counterparts during this visit, was that we don’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities,” Ms. Psaki said.
Emphasising that India’s purchase of Russian oil only constituted 1-2% of its total energy imports, Ms. Psaki said that while in New Delhi, Mr. Singh had explained U.S. sanctions and also had offered U.S. support to end India’s “small percentage of reliance” on Russian oil.
Also in New Delhi last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said that India and Russia were looking at ways to “bypass” U.S. and E.U. sanctions. There has been reports India has also increased its purchases of Russian oil in recent weeks. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told business leaders last week that India’s security interests came first, and that if fuel was available India would buy it.
Moscow was offering New Delhi discounts of up to $35 per barrel as per news reports and there has been talk of the two countries using a rupee-rouble trade mechanism to finance purchases.