India’s substantial purchases of Russian oil following the Ukraine conflict and amid Western sanctions tempered energy markets and aided in containing global inflation, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar has said.
At an interaction, titled “How a Billion People See the World”, moderated by noted journalist Lionel Barber on Wednesday in London, Jaishankar addressed the question on India pursuing its own independent foreign policy in the face of Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
Highlighting the balance between principles and interests in geopolitics, Jaishankar said: “We have learned the hard way that people speak of principles…but they are tempered by interest. In this particular case, we have a very powerful interest to keep our relationship with Russia.”
“Just imagine…had we not bought oil from Russia, global oil prices would have gone higher; because we would have gone into the same market, to the same suppliers that Europe would have done and, frankly, as we discovered, Europe would have outpriced us,” Jaishankar said.
“We saw in the LNG markets, where the supplies traditionally coming into Asia go directly to Europe. India was a big enough country to command some respect in the market, but there were much smaller countries that didn’t even get responses to tenders because the suppliers were not interested in dealing with them. They have bigger fish to fry,” he said.
“So, we’ve actually softened the oil markets and the gas markets through our purchase policies. We have, as a consequence, actually managed global inflation. I’m waiting for the thank you,” he added.
Jaishankar said India’s long and steady ties with Russia since the 1950s had dictated its independent policy towards Moscow in the wake of the conflict in Europe. “Both sides recognize the importance of the relationship, in keeping a kind of a continental balance in that part of the world,” Jaishankar said.
“Not just for India, but for countries east of Russia, it is a source of stability. Russia is not a revisionist power East of Russia…it is not automatic that if a country is perceived in a certain way in the West, that logic would extend to the East. The perception of the East is very different,” he added.
During the discussion, Jaishankar also delved into India’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, socioeconomic changes, bank recapitalization, efforts to boost trade and its massive adoption of digital technology.
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