Why does India continue to buy Russian oil despite sanctions?

Indian government officials on Friday defended the decision to buy Russian oil, saying European countries were continuing to buy hydrocarbons from Moscow and that high crude oil prices did not leave New Delhi with ample options.

In recent days, Indian oil refineries have bought several million barrels of Russian oil at a reduced price, according to press reports.

According to the local press, New Delhi has developed a rupee-ruble exchange mechanism to finance oil imports. in in particular, to avoid making exchanges in U.S. dollars.

According to Indian government officials, India imports nearly 85% of its crude oil needs and Russian oil represents only a “marginal” share of less than 1%.

India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world.

“Geopolitical developments have posed significant challenges to our energy security. For obvious reasons, we have had to cut off supply from Iran and Venezuela and alternative sources are often more expensive,” one of the officials said, speaking. in condition of anonymity.

He added: “The sharp rise in oil prices after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating the issue. India must continue to focus on competitive energy sources. “

“Self-sufficient countries in terms of oil or those importing from Russia can not ask in trade restrictions, “he added, referring respectively to the United States and European countries.

The White House said this week that India’s oil purchase does not appear to be a violation of US sanctions.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, oil prices had skyrocketed, affecting Indian consumers.

“We are a relatively poor country and oil prices are very important: electoral, political, social and so on via”said Lydia Powell, an energy policy expert at Observer Research, based in New Delhi.

India urged Russia and Ukraine to cease hostilities, but did not explicitly condemn the Russian attack or describe it as an invasion.

New Delhi and Moscow have had close ties since the Cold War and Russia remains India’s largest arms supplier.

In addition to oil and weapons, India imports fertilizers and rough diamonds from Russia, while it exports pharmaceuticals, tea and coffee.

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