India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia, its foreign minister has indicated as Western governments implemented a price cap to squeeze Moscow’s earnings from oil exports.
Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the comments on Monday after holding talks with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock. Jaishankar said it isn’t right for European countries to prioritise their energy needs but “ask India to do something else”.
“Europe will make the choices it will make. It is their right,” he told reporters.
India has so far not committed to the $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil set by the European Union and Group of Seven major industrialized countries. The cap, which came into effect on Monday, is an attempt by Western governments to limit fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow’s military and invasion of Ukraine while also avoiding a possible price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly taken off the global market.
Jaishankar did not make any direct reference to the price cap but said the EU was importing more fossil fuel from Russia than India. Indian officials have defended buying oil from Russia, saying its lower price benefits India.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India has steadily increased its purchases of discounted Russian oil. Those imports hit a record high in October, and Russia became India’s top oil supplier in terms of barrels per day, the Press Trust of India news agency said, quoting data from energy tracker Vortexa.
India and Russia have close relations, and New Delhi has not supported Western sanctions on Moscow, even though it has repeatedly urged an “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine. India, also a major market for Russian-made weapons, has so far abstained from voting on UN resolutions critical of Moscow’s war.
Jaishankar and Baerbock, who is in India on a two-day visit, also discussed a diversification of trade between the two countries, global consequences of the Russian war on Ukraine and cooperation in the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
The two countries signed a migration and mobility partnership, which will make it easier for their people to study, do research and work in the other country.
Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe, and more than 1,700 German companies operate in India. German investment in the country is mainly in transportation, electrical equipment, construction, trading and cars.