Dmytro Kuleba, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, had stirred the hornet’s nest after he blamed India for purchasing Russian oil at the expense of the sufferings of common Ukrainians.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, he claimed, “The opportunity for India to buy Russian oil at a cheap price comes from the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from the Russian aggression and die every day.”
“They are living in houses without heating, hot water and electricity. And this fact, we hope, should be appreciated by those who make decisions on purchasing Russian oil,” he further alleged.
Dmytro Kuleba claimed that the Ukrainian government is equally critical of all countries that are purchasing Russian oil in bulk. Later, he contradicted his own statement by applauding the decision to put a price cap ($60 per barrel) on Russian oil imports by the European Union and G7 countries.December 6, 2022
A price cap does not imply the cessation of the supply of Russian oil but rather an agreement to ship oil using G7 and EU tankers if Russia sells at the said price cap (which is already higher than the price at which Russia sells its crude).
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister also asked India to amend its foreign policy and stop buying Russian oil as the money is allegedly being used to finance the ongoing war with Ukraine.
“The core reason for India’s opportunity to save money on oil and solve its economic problems is not the fact that Europeans are not buying Russian oil. It’s the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from Russia’s war,” he continued.
“If you integrate this element into your thinking, of course, then, your foreign policy has to be adjusted,” Dmytro Kuleba told NDTV.
Past Response by S Jaishankar on the question of purchasing Russian oil
On March 31 this year, India’s Minister for External Affairs (EAM) S Jaishankar pointed out that European countries were the biggest importers of Russian gas and oil. He made the remarks during a discussion at the India-Uk Strategic Futures Forum.
While defending the decision to purchase Russian crude oil at discounted prices, the EAM emphasised that it was important for India to obtain good deals on energy supplies, at a time when global markets were volatile.
“It is interesting because we have seen for some time what looks almost like a campaign (against us) on this issue. When the oil prices go up, I think it is natural for the countries to go out into the market and look for what are good deals for their people,” he had remarked.
During a conversation with British Foreign Secretary of State Liz Truss, S Jaishankar emphasised that India purchased its majority of energy supplies from the Middle East. He pointed out that around 8% of the total oil imports were from the United States while less than 1% of crude oil purchases were from Russia.
He had added, “I am pretty sure if we wait two or three months and actually look at who are the big buyers of Russian oil and gas, I suspect the list would not be too different from what it used to be and I suspect we won’t be in the top 10 on that list.
Again on April 11, 2022, S Jaishankar gave a befitting reply to a reporter, who had tried to raise the issue of Indian oil purchases from Russia during the 4th edition of the India-US 2+2 dialogue.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Washington, responding to a reporter’s question on India’s energy purchases from Russia, points out Europe buys more in an afternoon than India does in a month pic.twitter.com/4LJituULic— Ananth Krishnan (@ananthkrishnan) April 12, 2022
“I noticed you referred to oil purchases. If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe,” he emphasised.
Dr S Jaishankar pointed out, “We do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect looking at the figures. Our total purchases for the month will be less than what Europe does in one afternoon. So, you might want to think about it.”
During the Raisina Dialogues conference in Delhi in April, S Jaishankar emphasised that India has a very clear position on the conflict in Ukraine and reiterated the need for urgent cessation of the war.
#WATCH | When rules-based order was under challenge in Asia, the advice we got from Europe is- do more trade. At least we are not giving you that advice… We should find a way of returning to diplomacy& dialogue: EAM Dr S Jaishankar about India’s stand on #RussiaUkraine conflict pic.twitter.com/Zf6c2cTAkV— ANI (@ANI) April 26, 2022
The Indian External Affairs Minister said, “When rules-based order was under challenge in Asia, the advice we got from Europe was- do more trade. At least we are not giving you that advice. We should find a way of returning to diplomacy and dialogue.”
While raising the question of Afghanistan he asked which part of the ‘rules-based order‘ justified the world’s actions in Afghanistan. S Jaishankar pointed out how the entire civil society in Afghanistan was thrown under the bus by the world last year.
In June this year, he again responded to concerns about India’s position in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the global order during a talk at GLOBSEC 2022.
Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are world’s problems, but world’s problem is not Europe’s problem, says EAM Jaishankar pic.twitter.com/J3MUmEpSnN— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 3, 2022
When asked about the Indian stand in the ongoing conflict, Dr Jaishankar stated that Europe must evolve out of the idea that its issues are international problems, but world problems are not Europe’s concerns.
“Europe has to grow out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems aren’t Europe’s problems. Today linkages are being made between China & India and what is happening in Ukraine. Come on guys, China & India happened way before Ukraine. It’s not a clever argument,” Jaishankar said.
When questioned if India’s purchase of Russian oil was financing the ongoing conflict, Jaishankar responded, “Tell me buying Russian gas is not funding the war? It’s only Indian money that funds, it’s not gas coming to Europe that funds. Let’s be a little even-handed out here.”
EAM: Look the whole narrative, it has gone up 9 times, it has gone up from a very low base…if countries from West, europe, US are so concerned why don’t they allow Iranian oil to come to the Market, why don’t they allow Venezuelan oil to come to the market.— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 3, 2022
Pointing out and slamming the hypocrisy of the west over the issue, Jaishankar further said, “Look the whole narrative, it has gone up 9 times, it has gone up from a very low base…if countries from the West, Europe, US are so concerned why don’t they allow Iranian oil to come to the market, why don’t they allow Venezuelan oil to come to the market.”
It has now come to light that the decision to buy discounted Russian oil has benefited India to the tune of 35,000 crores.
The changing foreign policy of India
Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, the west has been unhappy with India over the country’s position on sanctions against Russia.
Despite pressure from European countries and the USA, the Modi govt had refused to sever economic ties with Russia and has not stopped importing oil from the country. India also didn’t vote against Russia at the UN, choosing to abstain from voting instead.
In February this year, S Jaishankar clarified, “I don’t think these situations in the Indo-Pacific and the Transatlantic are really analogous and certainly the assumption in your question that somehow there’s a trade off and one country does this in the pacific so in return you do something else – I don’t think that’s how international relations work. We have, I think, are quite distinct challenges -what’s happening here, what’s happening in the Indo Pacific.”
Host: India spoke against China, but abstained on Ukraine at UNSC?
EAM Jaishankar: Situation in IndoPac & transatlantic not analogous. If thr was connection by that logic we would had European powers very early taking sharp position in Indo Pac. Havnt seen that. pic.twitter.com/UyP26zu7la
He pointed out, “In fact, if there was a connection, by that logic, you would’ve had a lot of European powers very early taking very sharp positions in the Indo-Pacific and we didn’t see that. We haven’t seen that since 2009.”
S Jaishankar had also lambasted Rahul Gandhi, who insinuated that Indian foreign service bureaucrats had become ‘arrogant’ under the Modi regime.
Yes, the Indian Foreign Service has changed.
Yes, they follow the orders of the Government.
Yes, they counter the arguments of others.
No, its not called Arrogance.
It is called Confidence.
And it is called defending National Interest. pic.twitter.com/eYynoKZDoW
He said, “Yes, the Indian Foreign Service has changed. Yes, they follow the orders of the Government. Yes, they counter the arguments of others. No, its not called Arrogance. It is called Confidence. And it is called defending National Interest.”