India buys Russian oil despite sanctions

An Indian official says the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to protect its energy demand, resisting Western pressure to avoid such purchases.

NEW DELHI – The state-owned Indian Oil Corporation bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to protect its energy demand, defying Western pressure to avoid such purchases, an Indian government official said on Friday.

The official said India had not imposed sanctions on oil purchases and would look to buy more from Russia, despite calls from the United States and other countries.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The United States, Britain and other Western nations are urging India to refrain from buying Russian oil and gas. According to Indian media reports, Russia is offering a 20% discount on oil purchases below the global benchmark price.

Such price hikes in recent weeks have created a huge burden for countries like India, which use it to import 85% of their oil. Its demand is expected to jump 8.2% this year to 5.15 million barrels per day as the economy recovers from the devastation caused by the epidemic.

White House press secretary Jennifer Saki said earlier this week that Indian purchases of Russian oil would not violate US sanctions, but called on India to “think about where you want to stand when writing a history book.”

Asked by reporters about India’s oil purchases from Russia, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said many European countries import oil and gas from Russia.

“India imports most of its oil demand. We are exploring all possibilities in the global energy market. I don’t think Russia was a major supplier of oil to India, “said Bagchi.

Iraq is India’s top supplier with 27% share. According to the Press Trust of India News Agency, Saudi Arabia is second with about 17%, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 13% and the United States at 9%.

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