The Biden administration is committed to work with India on its transition away from Russia, the White House has said.
It said there are a number of countries that have learned “the hard way of the fact” that Moscow is not a reliable source of energy or security.
When it comes to India's relationship with Russia, the U.S. has consistently made the point that it is a relationship, that developed and was cemented over the course of decades, really came to be during the Cold War at a time when the United States was not in a position to be an economic partner, a security partner, a military partner to India, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a news conference here Tuesday.
“That has changed. That's changed over the past 25 or so years. It's really a legacy, a bipartisan legacy that this country has achieved over the course of the past quarter century. President George W Bush's administration was really the first to put this into effect,” he said.
Mr. Price said the U.S. has sought to deepen its partnership with India in every sector, including economics, security and military cooperation.
“Now, this is a transition that we've always been clear eyed will not take place overnight, over the course of even a few months or probably even over the course of a couple of years. India is a large country, a vast country, a large economy that has demanding needs,” he said.
“So, the transition and the reorientation that we hope to see from India is something that this administration will be committed to working with India on. But this will likely be a task not only for this administration but for administrations to come,” Mr. Price said in response to a question.
Responding to a question on India’s purchase of oil from Russia, he said the United States has been intentional about exempting oil and gas, the energy sector, from the sanctions that have been imposed on Moscow.
“So, the fact that India has high demand for energy, that it continues to seek oil and other forms of energy from Russia, that is not something that runs afoul of the sanctions that have been imposed,” he said.
The U.S. has also been clear that now is not the time for business as usual with Russia, and it is incumbent on countries around the world to do what they can to lessen those economic ties with Russia. That's something that's in the collective interest, but it's also in the bilateral interest of countries around the world to end and certainly, over the course of time, to wean their dependence on Russian energy, Mr. Price said.
“There have been a number of countries that have learned the hard way of the fact that Russia is not a reliable source of energy. Russia is not a reliable supplier of security assistance. Russia is far from reliable in any role,” he said.
“So, it is not only in the interest of Ukraine, it is not only in the interest of the region, of the collective interest that India decrease its dependence on Russia over time, but it's also in India's own bilateral interests given what we've seen from Russia,” he said.
Price said over the last few months, the U.S. has had a number of high-level engagements with India.
Early this week on Monday, Deputy Secretary Sherman Wendy met with Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and had a wide ranging discussion about the U.S.-India relationship. Secretary of State Tony Blinken met with Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar here a couple of months ago, he said.
“There have been a number of conversations in between. The messages we heard from Foreign Minister Jaishankar in Russia were not dissimilar in some ways from what we heard from Prime Minister Modi at the U.N., when he made very clear that this is not an era of war,” Mr. Price said.
“India again reaffirmed that it stands against this war, that it wants to see dialogue, it wants to see diplomacy, it wants to see an end to this needless bloodshed that Russia is responsible for inside of Ukraine,” he said.
“It's important that the Russians hear that message from countries around the world. It's especially important that the Russians hear that message from countries like India, that are neighbors that have economic, diplomatic, social, and political might. And that's precisely the message that Foreign Minister Jaishankar delivered,” the State Department Spokesperson said.