US says India is key partner, but wants pressure built on Russia


India is a key strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region and the US lets Indian leaders speak about their economic policies, said US National Security Council coordinator John Kirby on Tuesday amid reports of a spike in Indian energy import from Russia.

Addressing a press briefing on Tuesday, June 21 Kirby said the US values this bilateral relationship with India, but added that Washington wants international pressure on Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

“India is also a very key strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region. And there are many ways that partnership represents itself both in defense and security, economic as well. I think we’ll let Indian leaders speak about their economic policies,” he said.

“What I can just tell you is we value this bilateral relationship with India and we continue to want obviously every country has to make those decisions for themselves. These are sovereign decisions but we want as much pressure put internationally on Russia as possible,” he added.

India in recent weeks has increased it energy imports from Russia despite global sanctions on Moscow. US officials said they conveyed the message to India that while there is no ban on energy imports from Russia, but also that they do not want to see a rapid acceleration.

India and Russia have always been strategic partners. Over the decades, a number of institutionalized economic cooperation mechanisms had been set up, but the Ukraine war and subsequent sanctions placed by the Western countries have proved to be a hurdle in trade.

India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar earlier this month hit back at the unfair criticism of Indian oil purchase from Russia amid the Ukraine war that has created a knock-off effect on the world economy.

While defending India’s oil imports from Russia, Jaishankar stressed that it is important to understand how the Ukraine conflict is impacting developing countries, and asked why was only India targeted for criticism when several European countries continue to import gas from Russia.

Jaishankar added, “Look I don’t want to sound argumentative. If India buying Russia oil is funding the war… tell me then, (Europe) buying Russian gas is not funding the war? It’s only Indian money and Russian oil coming to India funding the war and not Russia’s gas coming to Europe? Let’s be a little even-handed.”

At the GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum in Slovakia, Jaishankar said the sanctions imposed by the European Union are imposed keeping in mind the interest of certain European nations. “…if you can be considerate to yourself, you can be considerate to other people. If a Europe says, if we have to manage it in a way impact on the economy is not traumatic, that freedom should exist for other people as well,” he said.