‘If I need oil from Russia for my country, I will take it, won’t hide it’: PM Modi opens up on Washington-Moscow crude tussle

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an exclusive interview with Aaj Tak, said that India has been quite open about buying oil from Russia at a cheaper rate. He said that he has never hidden this fact from other countries, such as the United States.

“If I need oil from Russia for my country, I will take it and I don’t hide it either. It is not done secretly. I tell America by telling them that my country needs petrol at cheap rates. So, I don’t hide it and I follow the rules of my country in my time,” PM Modi said.

It is to be noted that India’s imports of Russian oil surged to a nine-month peak in April, influenced by disruptions in Russian refining capacity caused by Ukrainian drone attacks. This situation prompted Russian oil producers to increase the supply of discounted crude for export, as reported through vessel tracking data and industry analyses.

Indian refineries collectively imported 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude oil in April, the highest volume since July of the previous year—marking an approximately 19% increase over March’s import levels, according to provisional ship-tracking information from Kpler, a commodity market analytics firm.

In April, Russia supplied 40.3% of India’s 4.86 million bpd crude oil imports, marking the first time in seven months that Moscow’s share exceeded 40%. Russia’s share dropped to about 33% in the last four months from a peak of nearly 46% in May 2023, according to data.

Notably, this surge in India’s imports of Russian crude came despite the latest round of sanctions by the United States (US) against Russia’s oil shipping syndicate.

Earlier this week, US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti cleared that Washington wanted India to buy Russian oil at discounted prices to manage the increase in the cost of the crucial commodity and limit Russia’s financial support amid its conflict in Ukraine.

Speaking in an interview with a channel, the US Ambassador said: “We recognised that oil was a necessity for all economies,” while answering a question on his somewhat suggestive indication that the US wanted India to continue to buy Russian oil.  

“No, I would very positively emphasise again that this is something not just the US but that the world community said amid this aggressive, unprovoked war against another nation violating international borders that we recognised that oil was a necessity for all economies and all people and it wasn’t just India but that all countries should try to buy at a lesser price so that the Russian nation wouldn’t be able to pour even more money into a war against the Ukrainian people,” Garcetti said.  

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