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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Biden Urges Modi to Cut Off All Russian Oil Imports, in Recent Meeting

On Monday, President Joe Biden urged India’s Narendra Modi not to speed up the purchase of Russian oil as the US and other countries seek to cut off Moscow’s energy revenue in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine. The Indian prime minister made no public vow to avoid buying Russian oil, which has been a source of friction between India and the United States.

According to press secretary Jen Psaki, Biden informed Modi via video chat that the US could assist India diversify its energy sources. Despite the fact that India imports very little oil from Russia, it just made a significant purchase as other democracies seek to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The president also stated emphatically that he does not feel it is in India’s best interests to expedite or expand imports of Russian energy or other commodities,” according to Psaki.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, said during a separate State Department press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the emphasis of Washington’s worry over Russian energy imports should be Europe, not India.

“Looking at the numbers, I anticipate our total purchases for the month will be less than what Europe spends in one afternoon,” he remarked.

While Biden and Modi said they wanted to expand their connection at the end of their meeting, White House officials couldn’t tell whether India agreed with them in totally denouncing Putin, saying the decision was ultimately up to Modi’s administration. On May 24, the two presidents will meet in person in Tokyo for a Quad summit, which also includes Australia and Japan.

Blinken appeared to try to persuade India to take a stronger stance on the conflict in Ukraine at the State Department news conference, appealing to the country’s interest in upholding the international rules-based order and pointing out that resource-strapped Indians could be affected by both energy and food shortages caused by the war.

“Russia’s aggression is in stark contrast to the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific that the United States and India share, and Russia’s actions are having a profound impact not just in Europe and Ukraine, but around the world, for example, causing food insecurity and rising prices,” Blinken told reporters after the meetings.

The United States is concerned about India’s impartial attitude in the battle, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised India last month for analyzing “the issue in its whole, not only in a one-sided approach.”

Biden began the video call by highlighting the two nations’ defense alliance and said that the US and India will “maintain our close collaboration on how to mitigate the destabilizing consequences of this Russian conflict” on food and other commodities.

“A profound connection between our people, connections of family, friendship, and shared ideals, is at the heart of our alliance,” the US president remarked.

On Monday, Modi described the situation in Ukraine as “extremely alarming,” noting that an Indian student had died in the conflict. He claimed to have spoken with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pleading for peace with both. India has denounced the assassinations discovered in Bucha and demanded an impartial probe.

The Biden-Modi meeting was pleasant and productive, according to a senior US source, while the official emphasised that India will make its own judgments on how to respond to Putin. To describe the discussion, the official requested anonymity.

According to the official, Biden and Modi talked about how to handle the dangers of global instability in terms of food, humanitarian help, and climate change, and Modi frankly conveyed his thoughts on some of the strong ties between Russia and China that cause worry.

Also on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in person with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Austin urged India to join forces with other democracies, a type of governance based on public consent that stands in opposition to autocracies like China and Russia.

“Democracies must come together now more than ever to safeguard the principles that we all share,” Austin added.

India has resisted certain attempts to blame Russia responsible for the invasion. When the United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the 47-member Human Rights Council on claims that Russian forces in Ukraine committed human rights breaches that the US and Ukraine have labeled war crimes, India abstained.

With 58 abstentions, the result was 93-24.

Despite pressure from Western countries to stop importing Russian oil and gas, India continues to acquire Russian energy supplies. India’s recent acquisition of powerful Russian air defense systems has also prompted the US to contemplate penalties.

Last month, the state-run Indian Oil Corporation purchased 3 million barrels of Russian oil to meet its demands, defying Western pressure to avoid such purchases. However, India isn’t the only country that buys Russian electricity. Despite public pressure to terminate these contracts, certain European allies, such as Germany, have continued to do so.

According to Indian media sources, Russia is giving a 20% discount on oil imports compared to global benchmark pricing.

With a 27 percent market share, Iraq is India’s largest supplier. According to the Press Trust of India news agency, Saudi Arabia is in second place with roughly 17%, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 13% and the United States with 9%.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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