Hitting back at the criticism that India is facing for buying Russian oil amid the Ukraine war, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday presented an explanation justifying the Indian move.
Every country will try to ensure the best deal it gets to cushion high energy prices and India is doing exactly the same thing, said Mr Jaishankar during an interaction with the Indian community in Bangkok.
Oil and gas prices are unreasonably high, he said, and a lot of traditional suppliers are diverting to Europe as the continent is buying less from Russia. “Europe is buying much more from the Middle East and other sources who would have supplied India,” Mr Jaishankar responded to a query.
“This is the situation today where every country will try naturally to get the best deal possible for its citizens and try to cushion the impact of the high energy prices. That is exactly what we are doing,” said the foreign minister.
However, India is not doing it in a defensive way. The country has been open and honest about its interests, he said, adding that the Indian population cannot afford the high energy prices.
“I have a country with per capita income of $2000. These aren’t the people who can afford higher energy prices. It is my obligation and moral duty to ensure that I get them the best deal that I can,” said Mr Jaishankar.
He said countries including the US know India’s position and will “move on with that.”
The foreign minister has defended India’s Russian oil imports on public platforms multiple times in the past. India’s oil purchase from Russia in a month is probably less than what Europe does in an afternoon, he had said during a 2+2 ministerial dialogue in the US in April.
India’s oil purchase from Russia had surged since its invasion of Ukraine in February, with the imports surging to a record of around 950,000 barrels per day in June, according to Reuters data.