India’s PM Modi says he’s keen to boost ties with Russia, including energy

Environment

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony on October 5, 2018 in New Delhi, India.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday that he is keen to boost ties with Russia, even as the country has been ostracized from the international community following its war in Ukraine.

During an online address to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Modi spoke of a “special partnership” between the two countries and expressed particular interest in bolstering their cooperation on energy and coking coal.

The Indian leader also pointed to the impact of Covid-19 and the Russian-Ukraine war on global supply chains, and called for “diplomacy and dialogue” in ending the conflict.

“In today’s globalized world, events in one part of the world create an impact on the entire world,” said Modi, in a translation first reported by the Hindustan Times.

“The Ukraine conflict and the Covid pandemic have had a major impact on global supply chains. Food grain, fertilizer, and fuel shortages are a matter of great concern for developing countries,” he continued.

“From the very beginning of the Ukraine conflict, we have emphasized the need to adopt the path of diplomacy and dialogue. We support all peaceful efforts to end this conflict,” Modi added.

Western allies step up pressure on Russia

The comments come as Western allies are seeking to step up their economic squeeze on Russia.

Last Friday, the G-7 announced plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil in a bid to curtail the Kremlin’s ability to fund its onslaught in Ukraine. However, to be successful, members said the initiative would require buy-in from the broader international community — specifically major economies such as India and China.

Until now, India, which has upped its purchases of Russian oil following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, has refused to be held on the issue.

Speaking to CNBC Monday, India’s Petroleum Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri said the country would consider the proposals “very carefully,” but added that he felt no moral obligation to sign up.

“No, there’s no conflict. I have a moral duty to my consumer. Do I as a democratically elected government want a situation where the petrol pump runs dry?,” Puri told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at Gastech 2022 in Milan, Italy.

As of the end of March, Russia accounted for just 0.2% of India’s oil imports, according to Puri, with the vast majority of the country’s oil consumption — 5 million barrels per day — coming from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. 

Still, Modi in his speech Wednesday heralded the growing economic links between India and Russia. Specifically, he praised the 2019 launch of the “Act Far-East” policy, which saw India extend a $1 billion line of credit to the resource-rich region for developments in energy, diamonds and pharmaceuticals. 

“This policy has become a major pillar of the special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia,” he said.

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