A sharp improvised exchange on Thursday between the Minister of Foreign Affairs S Jaishankar and his counterpart, visit of British Foreign Secretary Liz Trusshighlighted the differences between New Delhi and London on the issue of sanctions against Russia.
Listening to Secretary Truss, Jaishankar said talking about sanctions “was like a campaign” and that it was Europe that was buying more oil from Russia than before the war.
While the British Foreign Secretary has repeatedly spoken about Russian aggression, Jaishankar did not name Russia in his statements during the 45-minute roundtable at the first India-Kingdom Strategic Future Forum United, jointly organized by the Indian Council of Global Affairs and Policy Exchange. This followed a bilateral meeting.
In response to questions about India buying oil from Russia at cut rates, Truss said: “I have described the UK’s approach to sanctions and the fact that we will end our dependence on -to Russian oil by the end of this year… India is a sovereign nation. . I’m not going to tell India what to do. What I said was that as a member of the British government who signed the Budapest memorandum, I feel a strong responsibility, on behalf of the United Kingdom, to take all possible measures, to support the Ukrainian people, but it is not the same as telling other countries what to do”.
Jaishankar responded by pointing out that in March Europe bought 15% more oil and gas from Russia than the previous month. “If you look at the major buyers of Russian oil and gas, I think you’ll find that most of them are in Europe. We get most of our energy supplies ourselves from the Middle East, about 7.5 to 8 percent of our oil from the United States in the past, maybe less than 1 percent from Russia.
He said India’s purchases were based on economic imperative. “When oil prices go up, I think it’s natural for countries to go into the market and look for the bargains for them. But I’m pretty sure that if we wait two or three months and actually look at who the big buyers of Russian gas and oil are, I suspect the list won’t be much different from what it was. And I suspect we won’t be in the top 10 on this list,” Jaishankar said.
On how China will behave in the face of Russian aggression, she said, “I spoke to my Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. China is clear that it respects Ukraine’s sovereignty, and this is an important principle that, as a member of the P-5 and a responsible nation, China must stick to. And therefore, we should not see China supporting Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
On the imperatives of taking a moral stance, Jaishankar drew a parallel with the situation in Afghanistan last year and said the way Europe was not affected in the same way as India was due at the turn of events in August last year, when the Taliban took control of the country. .
Jaishankar said, “I would say part of it depends on proximity as well. It depends in part on how strongly a particular country or society is tied to what is happening. And again, the example I would use is Afghanistan…I think what we saw happening in Afghanistan last summer had a very, very strong impact here, certainly in India. I would probably say it hasn’t had the same impact in Europe. I think people didn’t necessarily identify with the arrival of the Taliban in the same way. They do not identify with people who are affected in the same way. So, you know, the truth is, a lot of us have similar or shared beliefs, values, but there’s the ability to relate, the ability to identify, part of it is closeness…intensity reaction may not be the same all over the world.”