PM Modi-Biden talks ‘constructive’, India not violating any sanctions by importing Russian oil: US


In a major shift in its tone on India’s energy imports from Russia, the United States on Monday (local time) said that energy imports are not banned from Russia and New Delhi is not violating US sanctions.

This comes shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a virtual meeting with United States President Joe Biden wherein both the leaders exchanged views on several regional and global issues.
During Monday’s news conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the call between the two leaders was “constructive and direct”.

“This was a constructive call, it was a productive call. It’s a relationship that is vitally important to the United States and to the president. I would not see it as an adversarial call,” The White House spokesperson added.

Answering a question on whether Biden pushed India to limit Russian energy, Psaki said, “Energy imports are not banned and they don’t violate our sanctions. We certainly recognise that every country is going to take a step in their interest.”

However, Psaki during a press briefing, said Biden told PM Modi that it’s not in India’s interest to increase every import from Russia.

“Beyond that, I’d let Indian leaders speak for themselves,” said the White House Press Secretary on if US President was seeking a promise from PM Modi that he wouldn’t look to increase oil purchases from Russia.

On the question, if Biden was seeking a promise from PM Modi that he wouldn’t look to increase oil purchases from Russia, Psaki reiterated, “I will let Prime Minister Modi and Indians speak on that. It’s only 1-2 percent at this point in time, they export 10 percent from the United States. It is no violation of any sanctions or anything along those lines.”

Psaki further said Biden conveyed that the US is here to help them diversify their means of importing oil. “Imports from the US are already significant, much bigger than they get from Russia.”

Following Western sanctions on Russian entities in the wake of the Ukraine war, India purchased at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil at a discounted rate. This marked a sharp uptick from last year when India imported around 16 million barrels in 2021.

India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importer, imports 80 percent of its oil, but only about 2 percent to 3 percent of those purchases come from Russia.

Monday’s virtual talks, which preceded a “US-India 2+2 Ministerial” meeting later on Monday, included US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

During the press conference today, Psaki said the US has seen India speak out more forcefully against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly “as it relates to the horrific photos that we saw around Bucha”.

“We have seen them to take steps to provide humanitarian assistance and a range of assistance, but it is something we always encourage leaders to do – to speak out, to be vocal, to ensure they are on the right side of history,” she said